Theft from a motor vehicle

   Theft of personal property from a vehicle and theft of the vehicle are common crimes in the area.  These crimes are often expensive and cause an inconvenience to the victim.  Citizens can take simple steps to deter and prevent these crimes.

Lock the vehicle:  While this seems like a simple request, often Officers determine criminals stealing from motor vehicles are involved in a crime of opportunity.  If the doors are locked and windows are secured, a criminal may bypass that vehicle for an easier target.  While it seems a locked vehicle would be susceptible to more damage (such as a broken window), frequently the criminals do not wish to bring attention to themselves with the sound of breaking glass.  Always secure your vehicle when you are not in direct line of sight.

Anti theft devices:  Newer vehicles have alarm systems automatically installed in the vehicle.  If you have this option, activate it each time you secure your vehicle.  Alarms allow attention to be brought to the vehicle, which criminals try to avoid.  After market alarm systems can be purchased at retailers and professionally installed.  Other anti theft devices include a club placed on the steering wheel, satellite and GPS systems which track the vehicle, or wheel locks are available to deter criminals from selecting your vehicle.

Don't leave valuables in the vehicle:  Wallets, purses, personal electronics, money, and previous purchases are all easily visible from the exterior of the vehicle.  Criminals will look inside the vehicle to see if there are valuables inside prior to attempting to open the door.  Wallets and purses are also extremely dangerous to leave inside the vehicle due to the amount of personal information inside.  Criminals can access banking accounts, identifications, credit accounts and other information by obtaining a wallet.  These items should never be left in the vehicle.  Keys are often left in the vehicle for quick access; however if it is quick access for the owner,  it is also quickly obtained by a criminal. 

Park smart:  Location, location, location.  If you park your vehicle in a sparsely populated area, criminals can easily gain access and leave without being detected.  Always try to park in a lit, populated area.  If at your residence, ensure the driveway is lit and free from hiding areas such as shrubs or other personal property. 

Never leave your vehicle running while unattended:  Always turn your vehicle off and lock the doors when leaving your vehicle for any amount of time.  The opportunity for theft increases if they have easy access to the vehicle. 

Secure the title for your vehicle:  Never leave the title inside the vehicle.  It is easy for criminals to change the name or forge your signature to obtain legal possession of the vehicle.  If you must leave the title in the vehicle momentarily for registration purposes, secure it in the locked glove box to prevent theft.  After registration, immediately move the title to a lockbox inside your residence or a safety deposit box at the bank.

Be aware:  When walking to your vehicle, survey your surroundings.  If you see a suspicious person in the area, immediately report it to the police department.  Walk to your vehicle with your keys in hand to prevent time waiting at the car door.  Lock doors immediately upon entry of the vehicle.  Criminals seek victims that appear to be easier targets.  If you are alert of your surroundings, there is a chance you will not be selected.