Why can’t thieves get a job and buy their own stuff?
I might have mentioned once or twice (ok maybe more) in past articles that I am a police dispatcher. I have heard just about every story imaginable when people call in to report their car has been broken into and the cops need to find out who stole their stuff. Once I start to ask a few questions they usually end up giving very similar responses. Something along the lines of...
1. I left expensive items in my car that were visible to anyone who walked by.
2. I left my car unlocked.
The majority of vehicle “smash and grabs” could be prevented by simply not leaving anything valuable in plain sight and making sure your car is locked. Think about, If there aren’t any valuables visible, the would-be thief will move on to the next vehicle to find something to steal. Almost everything else inside the vehicle worth taking is too time consuming to remove (such as airbags or car bucket seats). Thieves are generally looking for small, expensive items that can easily be converted into cash.
I have taken calls from people who have left laptops, iPods, iPads, cell phones, portable GPS units and various types of gaming systems out in the open and had them stolen from their car. The main theme about these devices is that they are all small, expensive and can be easily traded for money. The cash conversion can be done at a pawnshop, on craigslist or other ways, but it is always quick and easy. Your items will be stolen one minute and converted into cash the next. The key is to never give thieves the opportunity to steal your valuables. I know there are times people are distracted or simply forget what they have in their cars, so I’ve listed a few ways to help keep your mind on your stuff when exiting the car.
Tips on how to remember expensive stuff when exiting the vehicle:
1. Do not talk on your cell phone when getting out of your car - You will be 100% distracted while exiting your vehicle if you do this and can forget about your purse, briefcase, computer or child, among other things. Also remember that the easiest way to hit someone in a parking lot (person or car) is being by preoccupied on the phone. It is easier to just put it away until you are parked.
2. Always give your vehicle a once over before you exit - Take the time to do an inventory of everything valuable that you brought with you before leaving the area of your car. You will be surprised on what you can remember just by taking a few extra seconds.
3. Make sure that your vehicle doors are locked and windows rolled up when you leave - This should be followed now matter where you are parked. It doesn’t matter if you are at the mall, a friend’s house or your own home. You would be surprised how many people seize the opportunity to rummage through a car with the windows down.
4. If you must leave something valuable in your vehicle, put it in the trunk - If you absolutely must leave your uber expensive electronic valuables in your vehicle, make sure that they are in the truck. It would be even better if there was something in your trunk that could be used for storing such items. The trunk also offers more protection for your devices from the sun since it is completely dark inside.
5. Park as close as possible to the front of the building you are going into - The more likely would-be thieves are to be seen means the less likely they are to attempt to burglarize a vehicle. However you might not always be able to accomplish this due to parking lots or spaces close to the building being full. A way around that would be to do your shopping during the morning or early afternoons since lots are generally not as full during those times.
The meat of the potatoes
We tend to put a large amount of personal information in our electronic devices, but for some reason we sometimes simply do not do a good job of safeguarding them. Most of the time something is stolen from a vehicle when a thief is walking through a parking lot and pulls handles to check if the door is unlocked. He or she will usually gravitate towards cars that have expensive items in clear display. Make sure you are not distracted and take everything with you. It’s always better to be safe and not just another statistic.