By Scott Fielder, RCC 2nd Vice President
Social media tells us that car break-ins are on the rise in our neighborhoods. Many vehicle break-ins are “crimes of opportunity,” where we’ve left doors unlocked, or valuables in sight of a passerby. Other times, there really isn’t much we can do when a would-be thief is walking down our street. Still, we can take steps to reduce the likelihood of a vehicle break-in happening to us.
Most would-be thieves work on the assumption they have about 60 seconds before local police could be on the scene. A thief will be gone in less than 20 seconds from the time your car window is smashed to the time he or she leaves the scene. That’s not much longer than the time it took to read this paragraph.
Twenty seconds is enough to rip a stereo from the dashboard, rummage through the glove compartment and center console, and grab anything left in sight (cellphones, tablets, wallets, loose change, etc.). Next time you think “I’ll be just a sec” as you drop off dry cleaning, pick up your child from day care, or run into Starbucks for your daily latte, realize that it’s more than enough time for a thief to grab what he or she wants from your car.
As I said early on, sometimes there just nothing you can do when a thief wanders through our neighborhood and breaks into cars parked on the street or in a driveway. A random hit–nothing more, nothing less.
Still, there are things that may either prevent or reduce the chance of your becoming a victim of a car break-in. Here are a few:
- If you’ve got an aftermarket stereo with a removable face plate, put it in the glove compartment. A stereo is useless without the face place. The thief may assume it’s in the car but not worth his or her time and move on.
- With nothing visible in your car, a thief will most likely pass it by. Sure, there may be something hidden from view, but why take the risk? Again, move on.
- Loose change, GPS system, toll pass, sports equipment and the like are basically magnets for a thief. Thieves will break into cars for less than a dollar in change, figuring there may be something else worth his or her time. Rethink if that visible loose change is worth the hassle of insurance claims, broken window, and, most important, your time.
- If you have to leave stuff in your car, put it in your trunk. That 20-second rule for which thieves strive doesn’t leave enough time to open a trunk for what might be there.
- When possible, park under a street lamp or in a well-lit area. Feeling too exposed and with an increased likelihood of being caught, the thief may move on to an easier target.
- Install motion sensor lights around your home whenever possible. Make sure those sensor lights are installed so high that most people can’t reach up and unscrew the bulbs.
If you’ve gotten this far, first, I thank you. Second, I leave you with two take-home messages:
- Light is the enemy of the thief. Make light your friend by parking in a well-lit area. If your home isn’t well lit, make it so by installing motion lights or leaving a porch light on.
- Twenty seconds is all it takes, 20 seconds for a thief to make your possessions his possessions.