Thursday, July 31, 2014

Unlocked vehicles prove easy targets for passing thieves

4/14/2014

Two words are making an all-too frequent springtime appearance on The Herald’s “Daily Report” of crimes occurring in the area. Those words — “unlocked” and “unsecured” — too often refer to thefts that were easily facilitated because the vehicles’ owners didn’t take time to lock them. 

Whether vehicle owners are lazy, too trusting or just plain apathetic, leaving a vehicle unlocked can welcome crime. Losses can include everything from spare change and electronics to personal documents and other items — up to and including a yet-to-be cashed paycheck. If the vehicle’s keys are left in the unlocked vehicle too, then someone’s sole means of transportation might also be gone.

Two words are making an all-too frequent springtime appearance on The Herald’s “Daily Report” of crimes occurring in the area. Those words — “unlocked” and “unsecured” — too often refer to thefts that were easily facilitated because the vehicles’ owners didn’t take time to lock them. 

Whether vehicle owners are lazy, too trusting or just plain apathetic, leaving a vehicle unlocked can welcome crime. Losses can include everything from spare change and electronics to personal documents and other items — up to and including a yet-to-be cashed paycheck. If the vehicle’s keys are left in the unlocked vehicle too, then someone’s sole means of transportation might also be gone.

Other losses are less tangible. Once burglarized, people feel violated, less safe and more suspicious. If gaining entry to a vehicle also allowed easy access to a residence via a garage door opener left inside, the situation quickly can move from a simple property crime to something unimaginable — a home invasion or worse.

The overall costs of the loss can be even higher when taking in the costs for law enforcement officials who come to the scene of the theft to investigate, write reports and attempt to find the perpetrators. Those losses can drive up victims’ insurance costs too. And they could have been prevented if offenders had faced just a little resistance — a lock — that would likely have kept them on their way to cause mayhem somewhere else.

These thieves run the gamut: drug addicts looking for money to purchase more drugs, transients seeking a place to sleep for the night, young people looking to push the boundaries of right and wrong or even professional offenders seeking specific electronics to steal for their resale value.

Vehicle owners can avoid crossing paths with such individuals by locking their vehicles, not leaving valuables visible or accessible, making neighborhoods safer by leaving security lighting on, maintaining trimmed bushes and other landscaping and keeping an eye out for suspicious people. It all matters because property crimes tend to be underreported with less than half of occurrences being detailed to law enforcement.

Being proactive by locking doors can help each of us avoid becoming victims and putting our personal property in peril.

Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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