Prevention Tips for Thefts From Vehicles

While auto theft does occur in our city, theft FROM vehicles is far more prevalent. Because it is so common, we would like to point out some problem areas based on Fort Wayne statistics and offer some tips for owners.

Problem areas include(2007 statistics):

  • Restaurants
  • Bars and Nightclubs
  • Health/ workout facilities
  • Large parking lots
  • Construction sites

What is being taken from these vehicles? More importantly, why are these vehicles and/ or locations targeted? To answer the first question is quite simple…they are stealing anything they can sell or pawn later, including the things you might not consider valuable. According to the numbers, we have seen a large number of womens purses, men’s wallets, electronic/ digital equipment, money (cash), check’s and credit cards, stereos, and personal documents stolen from vehicles. Purses are by far the most common item taken.

Let’s look at the second question. The vehicles are being targeted because the owner is identifying the gender of the owner (hanging beads, lei’s, photos on lanyards, etc. from their rearview mirror) and they are parked in a location where a female is less likely to take her purse inside with her. We know this to be true for the most part from interviewing criminals known for thefts from vehicles. For example, most women are reluctant to take their purse inside a workout facility and when a thief sees the car where the gender has been labeled, they simply break in. Another example: Think about what women take into bars with them, and then think about where they keep their purse while they are inside (they usually leave them in the vehicle somewhere). Label the gender of the vehicle owner and there’s not much guesswork!

Other thefts occur because we either forget items are in the vehicle, or we let our guard down believing that the item won’t be in the vehicle for very long. “I can go inside and leave my digital camera in the vehicle…this won’t take too long.”

Prevention Tips

For individuals:

  • Avoid leaving valuables in your vehicle. If necessary, hide them. If hiding them, do so early before you get to your destination.
  • Avoid labeling the gender of your vehicle. Remove the beads, lei’s, etc. Not only could this be a problem for thefts from vehicles, but you could identify yourself to a sexual predator.
  • Use “Operation I.D.” for your valuables. Not only for items kept in your vehicle, but for those at home as well. See “Operation I.D.” under Crime Prevention headings.
  • Install an alarm on your vehicle.
  • Lock you car doors. Make it difficult for the offenders.
  • Check your vehicle prior to exiting. Ensure that you didn’t leave valuables in plain view or accidentally.
  • Park near windows and well lighted areas.

For business owners:

  • Check your lighting often to ensure that all the bulbs are functioning. Install better (not necessarily more) lighting for known problem areas.
  • Install a CCTV (Closed Circuit TeleVision) to monitor (supplement surveillance) parking areas.
  • Ensure that landscaping such as trees and shrubs do not block the surveillance of the lots.
  • Install fencing to control foot traffic coming and going throughout the lot.
  • Hire security/ or attendants.
  • Install electronic barrier devices at entrances/ exits (best used for auto theft).

The Fort Wayne Police Department would like to remind you to be vigilant in the protection of your vehicle and the items that you keep inside them. Criminals look for the easy target…is your vehicle an easy target?