Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Stop setting yourself up to be a victim of theft

First, I want to thank everyone for your cooperation in staying off the roads as much as you could yesterday and letting crews do their job clearing the snow. It made a big difference.

Second, I’m going to ask for the public’s help in another matter. Time and time again, we have asked that you not leave items in your car in plain view, creating a perfect opportunity for thieves. Just when we think that message is starting to sink in, we’re proven wrong. This past weekend (Jan. 28-31), the Central Patrol Division had 24 reports of thefts from vehicles. On Friday, Jan. 28, a community partner called concerned about a rash of car break-ins in his neighborhood. It’s an area where police have devoted significant manpower to stopping the break-ins, but they continue. Surveillance video has even captured an unidentified suspect wiping snow off car windows and looking inside to see if there’s anything worth taking. If so, he busts in and steals it. If not, he moves to the next car.

One of our officers went to this neighborhood on Saturday, the 29th, and said he saw the following within 30 seconds: “A car with a GPS unit attached to window, a car with a purse in plain view on the passenger seat, a car with a camera bag on the passenger seat, two cars with significant change in plain view on the console, a vehicle with two smart phones on the console and a satellite radio in plain view and a vehicle that had mail with the owner’s name and address in plain view.” He even took pictures inside these parked cars, which I’ve posted below. The owners of these vehicles are blatantly not following the advice we have given over and over again to not leave items of value in plain view.

The officer found one of the vehicle’s owners and told him how at risk he was putting himself for theft. The owner said he relied on the car’s factory anti-theft system, but what he didn’t realize was that those types of factory systems will not operate unless the car door is opened. Criminals know this and break out the window instead. Criminals also talk among one another and know where the “easy pickings” are. This doesn’t just happen in the central city, either. We’ve also had significant theft-from-auto problems in places like Zona Rosa north of the River.

You must be part of a solution to this persistent problem, which is a drain on police resources. Do not set yourself up to be a victim. Do not leave anything of value in plain view in your car. Please take some time to review this “If I Were a Thief” brochure for more tips on how to protect your property.

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