Guest editorial Week of 5/20/19

By: 
Ron Craig

Vehicle entries, break-ins can be avoided in many cases

From time to time, most all law enforcement agencies receive multiple reports from citizens who have had their vehicles entered and items taken from inside.
These incidents usually occur in a rash of thefts in one area or neighborhood during the night.
Like much of the crime that happens these days, the motive can be to get money to buy drugs.
Not all illegal vehicle entries are considered break-ins. For a break-in to occur, it usually has to involve some type of force, such as the breaking of a window.
In the end, whether force has been used or not, a vehicle owner is going to out the property that was taken. The bigger difference is the vehicle owner will face an expensive repair to repair the window or other damage to the vehicle.
While it is generally true that a locked vehicle is more likely to keep unwanted people out of a vehicle, it should be remembered that a person who really wants inside will break a window.
The key factor here is to prevent someone from wanting inside the vehicle. In other words, don’t give them any incentives to want inside. Valuable such as purses, wallets, and electronic devices should be removed from a vehicle and put back in only when they are going to be needed.
Today’s cell phones have reduced the need for some other electronic devices such as GPS units and music devices. Smartphones have incorporated these features, and most people keep their cell phones with them.
If you find it absolutely necessary to leave a cell phone inside a vehicle, for example to allow it to charge, it should be hidden from view. You can place it under a seat or tuck it between the seat and the console. You must keep in mind, however, that someone may still see the charging cord, giving them a clue there is likely an electronic device attached.
Purses and wallets are a glaring invitation for someone to get inside a car to take them. You may just as well have a flashing neon sign on top of the vehicle letting everyone know the item is there for the taking.
Most people would be surprised to know how enticing loose coin change is. It is the one item that is consistently taken when a vehicle has been entered by a thief. To you, it is less than a dollar or two, but to a thief it is something easy to grab, easy to carry, and something that doesn’t need to be “fenced,” or sold to turn into cash. This change also adds up for the thief.
Many newer vehicles come equipped with some type of security system, and vehicle owners who have older ones may have installed a keyless entry device and/or remote starter system. These devices can go a long way in preventing vehicle entries and break-ins.
Each vehicle owner or driver must decide for himself or herself if they are going to lock the doors when they exit, particularly at night. Regardless of which line of thought is used—to lock or not to lock—a security system allows an important option.
You can “arm” the vehicle by engaging the alarm system with the remote, which will lock the doors. You can then manually unlock each of the front doors with the key. This way, a thief can enter the vehicle without breaking a window, but the alarm should still sound when a door is opened.
You should also remember thieves like to work in the dark. They will avoid well lit areas; depending on the desperateness of their situation (how badly they need the money or drugs).
Having bright lights on at all times near a vehicle is the most effective way to use light to your advantage. Lights that are motion activated are the next best thing, but remember the thieves will already be on your property before they realize you have them.
In short, thieves don’t like noise and they don’t like light.
If you hear strange noises that sound like you may have an intruder, call 9-1-1 immediately and stay inside. Turn on outside lights that may not already be on. Never go outside to confront someone.
A few months ago, we had a rash of vehicle entries in the township and a resident went outside only to be met with gunfire. Luckily, the resident was not hit.
Many thieves are not stupid, but you can be smarter. Use these tips to protect your vehicle and yourself.

This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.

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