Chief’s Corner: Don’t leave cars running unattended
Over the past few weeks we have seen an increase in thefts of motor vehicles and farm equipment and in illegal use of credit cards.
Through our investigations, we have determined that most of these thefts have been what are commonly called “crimes of opportunity.” This means that the victims have left their vehicles unlocked with keys in the ignition and valuables lying in plain view.
The criminals walk around town and locate unlocked vehicles with the keys left in them, along with valuables, just waiting to be stolen. The criminals take the vehicle and head straight for the convenience stores and use the credit cards they have just stolen. Most store clerks will only ask, “Is it debit or credit?” The criminal says “credit,” signs the receipt and the theft is completed before the victim even realizes the property has been stolen.
As winter approaches, we start seeing a lot more of these types of crimes, because people will go outside, start their vehicles to warm them up, throw their valuables in the front seat and walk away, leaving the vehicle unlocked and running.
Just a reminder: It is illegal to do this. Section 107 of the Standard Traffic Ordinance states that no person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition and effectively setting the brake. However, this does not apply to vehicles equipped with remote starters.
These crimes could be prevented if everyone would simply lock their vehicles and take their valuables inside with them. Another option for protecting your credit cards is to sign the back stating “Ask for ID.” This should prompt the clerk to ask that person for an ID, and when it cannot be provided by the criminal, the clerk should refuse the sale.
With winter and the holidays quickly approaching, everyone needs to take extra precautions to ensure that they don’t become one of the next victims of an easy “crime of opportunity.”