By Ron Beasley….
If you find what appears to be a ticket on the windshield of your car after an afternoon of shopping in your favorite area mall, don’t be alarmed; it’s just a reminder from the Pinecrest Police Department to conceal your valuables and lock your car.
The Department has launched a program to encourage Village residents not to leave valuables in their cars when shopping, dining out or even when parked in the driveway of their homes.
New data reveals that in 2010 half of the car burglaries in the Village involved a vehicle that was unlocked and with valuables left in the open. Police Chief John Hohensee says that information prompted him to develop a new program called Vehicle Courtesy Checks to help cut down on car burglaries.
“We continue to develop and implement community policing programs designed to assist our residents and visitors and educate them about crimes affecting our area,” said Hohensee. “Successful community policing programs require community members to work together with the police to help prevent crime. By working collaboratively to reduce crime opportunities, we can discourage motivated offenders while safeguarding our possessions.”
Pinecrest police officers routinely will be checking Village parks and shopping plazas for unlocked vehicles with valuables left in plain view. They will leave a Vehicle Courtesy Check Card on the vehicle windshield to remind the driver that he has left his vehicle in a precarious situation.
“These cards should be seen as a friendly reminder that the same way we found the property unsecured, a burglar could also have discovered it,” said Hohensee. “We encourage residents to always lock their vehicles and secure their items of value. By diligently working together, we can reduce the incidence of vehicle burglaries in the Village.”
Hohensee said some of the items most often stolen from a parked vehicle include purses, book bags, back packs, brief cases, iPods, cell phones, lap top computers, portable GPS units, designer eyewear and shopping bags (especially bags holding recent purchases with receipts).
Hohensee says most vehicle burglaries are “crimes of opportunity” and oftentimes there is nothing special or even suspicious about the behavior of offenders before a crime happens. In many cases, the typical offender stumbles upon opportunities for crime over the course of a daily routine.
Hohensee outlined scenarios that are common in car burglaries:
• A car burglar sees items of value in plain view and then pulls on the car door handle. If the vehicle is found unlocked, the item(s) can be taken in less than five seconds. If the door is locked the offender will evaluate the suitability of your vehicle as a target and weigh the benefit of taking your property against the risk of being caught.
• A woman exits a vehicle at the post office to drop off a package. If she exits without a purse, an observant offender assumes the purse is in the passenger compartment. The purse may be visible but even if it is not, it would be logical for the offender to make this assumption. Taking your purse with you into the post office is the best deterrent.
• A shopper leaves recent purchases in the vehicle while stopping at a local restaurant before going home. The offender may have witnessed the shopper place the items in the vehicle or the offender may have already been parked in the space next to where the shopper parked and upon returning to his vehicle observes the highly visible packages. The higher the potential value of the recently purchased merchandise is, the greater the risk that the offender will be willing to take to burglarize your vehicle.
• A student drives to the bookstore on the way home from school and leaves a book bag or lap top computer on the floor board of the vehicle. The high dollar value of a lap top computer or the possibility that a book bag contains a small lap top computer can be too strong a temptation for a motivated offender to resist.
“Attractive targets that are difficult to access and don’t have a reliable exit will be comparatively safe since the risks are too high for the petty offender,” said Hohensee.
“Also, most offenders will conduct a risk-benefits analysis and will usually not burglarize a vehicle if the benefit or monetary gain is not clearly present.”