Crime Prevention Corner:  Preventing vehicle break-ins

With the warmer months upon us, more of us will be outside doing more. Whether it is going out to dinner, shopping, or just taking a run or walk in a city park, we will be outdoors.  When leaving your home make sure you lock your doors and leave a light on. This is just an added precaution of making a potential burglar believe that someone is home. And there are a few basic tips that can help in preventing your vehicle from getting broken into, and your property being stolen.

There is almost nothing worse than returning to your vehicle and discovering it has been broken into, and some of your belongings are missing. The fact is it is far too easy to become a victim of a vehicle break-in: Every year, there are about 1.85 million such incidents, with more than $1.2 billion in personal items and accessories stolen from cars. Often times there are a number of things you can do to reduce the chances of a vehicle break in. Protect your property by taking the following steps to avoid a break-in:

Avoid eye appeal

Criminals look for opportunities: Checking for purses, computer bags, smartphones, iPods, etc., that can be seen from the window of a vehicle. Make sure these valuables are not visible. And take the car keys with you on your way out. These tips may seem obvious, but sometimes when drivers are rushing or distracted, common sense can falter. Two out of every five people don’t hide their valuables in vehicles. One-quarter leaves a wallet or purse inside, and one-half display mail in their car. If either of these items were swiped, not only would there be property loss, but also potential identity theft.

Leave no trace

Even if drivers remember to stash electronic devices, they often will forget about the accessories that tip off intruders, like power plugs, iPod adapters and the navigation-system windshield suction-cup mounts. Place these items out of sight, as well.

Hide it before you drive

Here’s what law enforcement says about thieves: They will stake out retail parking lots and look for shoppers who are placing items in trunks. Although it’s advisable to load personal items (such as computer bags or packages) in the trunk as a precautionary measure, it’s best to do so before leaving your home or work for the store, so you don’t tip your hand.

Stay visible

Although you don’t want the vehicle’s interior to attract attention, you need to increase the profile of your vehicle. If you don’t have a garage, park the car in a well-lit area that has lots of traffic and optimum lighting. Likewise, if you’re shopping, park in a highly visible location.

By following these basic tips you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim of a vehicle break-in.