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NPPD Crime Prevention Tip:

Preventing theft of valuables from your automobile

 


When parking your car in the warm weather of summer, don’t be tempted to leave the car windows down; if the windows are down, the door locks don’t do anything.   Police Departments across New Jersey are inundated with reports of the theft of valuable items from the inside of cars. These incidents take place on the street; in the parking lots of businesses, shopping malls, schools, parks, apartment building; and private driveways.  Several years ago the most commonly reported stolen items were car radios and radar detectors.  A recent review of newspaper articles reflect anecdotal evidence it is now portable navigation devices made by such companies as Tom-Tom, or Magellan.   These devices provide real time directions through the Federal Government’s global satellite positioning system and can cost several hundred dollars.  They make attractive targets for thieves.  MP3 players such as Ipods, and subscription radio receivers such as those used by XM radio or Sirius radio, are also frequently being reported as stolen from inside  parked cars as well.   

There are several things you can do to make your car a less attractive target.  The simplest is don’t leave valuables in your car.  This may be unrealistic due to the inconvenience of taking these items in and out of your car each time you use it.    If leaving these items in your car at least put them out of sight, such as under a seat or in the glove box.  Many of the people that steal items from inside cars have told police they would first look in the car and move on if nothing of value was visible. When parking your car, roll up the windows and lock the doors.  This is the most obvious theft deterrent but also the most overlooked. Numerous police reports indicate the items were stolen from automobiles that were unlocked.  Never leave your keys in your car; police reports also often include that information as well. That is an open invitation for criminals to take your car.

If you have a garage use it, if your car is out of sight, chances are it will be left alone.  If you have to park it on a public street or parking lot, try to park it in a well lit space, thieves prefer to work in poorly lit areas that provide them with some cover.  If you’re wondering if you should lock your car in your own driveway, the answer is a resounding yes.  A thief can be in and out of your car in thirty seconds, barely enough time to be noticed during the day, let alone in the middle of the night.  Another option is to consider an alarm system.  That will be covered in the next tip on preventing automobile theft.  The previously offered tips are a no cost alternative, and although not fool proof will over a degree of protection that’s only cost is taking the few minutes to implement the suggestions. 

Thefts from the interior of automobiles are a serious problem in New Jersey and is it not taken lightly by police agencies.  Entering the automobile of someone unknown to the actor with the intent of taking their property is considered burglary under New Jersey law.  When police departments make an apprehension and are able to prove that intent, they will enthusiastically pursue the most serious charges available. You may assist the police by maintaining a list of the valuable contents in your car including their serial numbers, or owner applied numbers.  In this day and age of digital photography, keeping a photographic record is an inexpensive and not overly time consuming method of aiding a police or insurance company’s investigation too.     

Remember, place valuable items out of sight; roll up windows and lock the doors; park the car in a garage or well lit area; keep a record of valuable car contents, and PLEASE NEVER LEAVE YOUR KEYS IN YOUR PARKED CAR.