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Car Prowling by the GRINCH who could steal more than your Christmas!

During harder time and especially in December to January car prowling’s seem to be on police occurrence log sheets more  and more.  And although you are diligent it only takes that ONCE for you to leave stuff in the vehicle and bad guys/gals to be in your area and its gone before you can say Bobs your Uncle.

Theft from vehicle, also known as car prowl, is the unlawful taking of motor vehicle contents or parts. Car prowls are crimes of opportunity. An offender makes a split second decision to break into a vehicle based on a perception that there are items of value in that vehicle, which makes the potential payoff worth the risk.

PARKING TIPS

  • Take a moment to observe your surroundings when leaving or returning to your car.
  • If your car is stored in a carport or parked near your house, leave your exterior lights on throughout the night.
  • Increase the visibility of parking spaces on residential or business properties by trimming back trees and bushes, and installing motion-detecting lighting.
  • Drivers can help keep thieves out of secure parking garages by taking a few moments to ensure security doors fully close behind them.
  • If you park on the street, choose a well-lit, open space.
  • If you park your car in a dark or isolated area.

When filing a report on-line or over the phone you do not need to remain at the scene. If you choose to call the non-emergency line, simply ask to report a crime and, if it meets the criteria, the call-taker will forward you to an officer who will take your report over the phone. The officer will still provide you with a case number. If the crime is still in progress or it is an emergency situation, call 9-1-1 immediately!

It is always about more prevention than detection!

Car prowl is one of the easiest crimes to prevent with increased awareness and a change in habits. The following steps will reduce the chances that your vehicle will be targeted: • Keep the interior of your car “showroom” clean. Never leave valuables, including bags, purses, wallets, briefcases, laptops, cell phones, loose change, or anything that may appear valuable to a thief in plain view. Offenders have broken in to vehicles for items such gym bags because they assumed there were electronic devices and other items stored in them. • Hide chargers and accessories that indicate a GPS, mobile phone, or other device may be stashed in your vehicle. • Remove garage door openers, key cards, and house or work keys from the car so that a prowler cannot gain access to your home. • Don’t store or leave credit cards, identification or personal information in your glove box or anywhere in your car. Car prowls are a gateway to other crime like: • Identity Theft • Burglaries • Vehicle Theft What to Do if Your Car is Broken Into If your car is broken into, report the crime to the police. If it’s a crime in progress, call 9-1-1. Take note of any details of the suspect(s), vehicles, and or activities, and share your observations with the police.

Encourage your neighbors to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, and to keep their cars showroom clean. One car prowler stated that if a neighborhood consistently kept their vehicles free of valuables, he would move on to another neighborhood. Please let your neighbors know when there are car prowls in your neighborhood and what they can do about it. A good way to share the information with neighbors is through your Neighborhood Watch or Foot Patrol.

If you are interested in organizing one, contact your Law Enforcement Crime Prevention Coordinator for more information on how to get started.

If you have to leave valuables in your car, put them in the trunk before you arrive at your destination. • Before leaving your car, always remove the keys, roll up the windows, lock the doors, and set the alarm (if you have one). • If possible, store your car in a closed and locked garage. If your car is parked in a carport or near your house, leave your exterior lights on throughout the night. • Consider replacing the light fixture closest to your car with a motion detector unit. Motion detectors are good psychological deterrents, causing the thief to think that someone has seen them when the light comes on. Additionally, the light makes the prowler or thief more visible. • Improve visibility where your car is parked. If you park on the street, choose a well-lighted, open space even if it means adding additional exterior lighting. Trim back trees or bushes that block the view of your vehicle from your home. Avoid parking near anything that limits visibility like dumpsters, large vans or trucks, or wooded areas. • Use a mechanical locking device such as a club that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake.

Keep your keys with you instead of putting them in a hiding place. • Don’t leave your vehicle in unattended parking lots for long periods of time. • When you pay to park in a lot or garage, leave just the ignition key with the attendant. Make sure no personal information is attached. Do the same when you take your car in for repairs. • Carry the registration and insurance card with you when you leave your vehicle.

NOTE: Make sure you have these items with you when you return. Operating the vehicle without these documents is against the law.

Consider installing a security system if you live in a high-theft area or drive an automobile that is an attractive target for thieves. Get to know your neighbors; share contact information – phone numbers, emails – and look out for each other. The people who live on your block are the most likely to recognize suspicious people or suspicious activity. • Be observant when you exit or enter your parked vehicle, stop and take a look around the area. • Report any suspicious activity to the police.

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