posted on November 07, 2013 20:37
Statesville Police Chief Tom Anderson has words of advice for safe shopping this holiday season.
We are once again rapidly approaching the holiday season and I wanted to take this opportunity to put out a few reminders concerning shopping safety and crime prevention. A problem inherent to holiday shopping is that our cars quickly become filled with an open display of electronics and valuables. The issue with this is that motivated shoppers are not the only ones you are walking by in parking lots and in stores. There are also individuals that view this also as a period of opportunity and one that will ruin your holiday spirit! A broken car window is not something that any of us want to experience and it is up to each of us to make crime prevention a priority during this high volume shopping period.
The formula for a car break-in crime is as simple as this. If there is an opportunity provided by a victim in the presence of a motivated offender, and no supervision is present, a crime is likely to occur. In essence, if we leave flat screens, computers, game systems, purses, etc. in plain view within our glass wrapped vehicle, we can only assume that it is not a question of if, but when!
This is a challenge for communities across the U.S. and one that unfortunately is not received as well as we would like based on the number of related car break-ins that get reported during the year and throughout the holidays. Several years ago I personally conducted a study of one of our largest parking areas. We surveyed well over 8oo vehicles and were surprised in what we were able to easily see within the vehicle interiors. During this experiment we identified over fifty vehicles with purses and handbags in plain sight, not to mention numerous computers, devices, IPods and even currency. If the police can observe these items, the thieves clearly can and will take action.
So what do we do? Plan ahead, and make it a part of the shopping day to transport large items immediately home after shopping. Don’t leave recently purchased and wrapped items in plain view of our cars. This sounds like "common sense", but drivers and passengers continually leave items of value in plain view every day. We recently had a break-in report where the victim left $1000.00 in the center console of a vehicle. Not a good practice and if you leave valuable items visible in your car, your car is automatically a target.
When shopping is finished, locking everything valuable in the trunk may be difficult considering errands at multiple destinations. Definitely avoid leaving items visible in your car. Lock them in the trunk if you have to leave packages in your car unattended. Pre-plan you’re shopping trips so that you don't load your trunk until you are ready to drive to another location. It is recommended to never open a trunk, fill it full of valuables, close it, and then just walk away. Be aware, people may be watching.
When walking throughout shopping areas and parking lots have your keys ready and remain alert for suspicious persons or vehicles. If you see anyone that makes you feel uneasy, immediately go back into the store and call the police department. We will gladly come and check out the situation. Trust your instincts!!
Once home, unload your valuables immediately. Do not store valuables in your car any longer than necessary, and certainly never overnight. Additionally, remove all evidence that there might be valuables "out of sight" in your vehicle, such as docking stations or unplugged device cables. Leave nothing in "plain sight" that might make your vehicle worth "investigating" by a thief. And, lock your vehicle. A number of car break-ins are reported where the victim left the vehicle unsecure.
As the shopping season draws near, the Statesville Police Department will increase the visible patrol presence within the shopping districts. More importantly, we also depend on community members taking the proper crime prevention steps. Crime prevention does not happen by accident. It is personal, intentional, and well planned.
As always, we will be glad to assist community members with crime prevention questions or concerns. Please contact me for further questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Crime Prevention Officer Chan Austin at 704-878-3442, or email@example.com.
Let's continue to work together to make Statesville a safe place to live, work, and recreate
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