Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Don't leave "indicators" for thieves

Last week, I told you about how one of our Central Patrol Division officers found several cars with valuable items inside them in plain view within 30 seconds of responding to an area that has had problems with car break-ins. He went to another area of the division later that week - which also has had problems with car break-ins - and found several more cars with "indicators" in plain view.

These indicators tell a criminal there might be something of value inside. It can be a power cord to a cell phone or iPod or a GPS mount. The actual device may not be attached to the indicator, but it can lead crooks to believe the valuable device is stashed somewhere inside the vehicle - like under the seat or in a glove box. The officer found cars with the below indicators in less than one minute. The first has a GPS mount, and the second and third have power cords.

The officer then ran into someone he knew had a history of breaking into cars. He showed the man the pictures he'd just taken. The officer said, "He told me with what he saw, he would definitely have taken the chance of breaking into those vehicles, and that's exactly what he was looking for when he was actively breaking into vehicles."

Many times, the valuable devices thieves are looking for aren't actually in the cars. But by then, they've already broken out windows and done hundreds if not thousands of dollars in damage. Central Patrol had 1,377 incidents of property damage reported in 2010. Detectives estimate that about half of those involved someone breaking into a car and not actually stealing anything. That's nearly 700 incidents that pulled police resources away from things like violent crime that could have been prevented had people simply taken their cell phone charger out of their car.

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