• Police tell residents, ‘Lock it, hide it or lose it’
BROOKINGS – Thefts of personal items from five different vehicles Saturday have once again prompted Brookings police to issue a reminder to citizens to keep their unattended cars and trucks locked.
Lt. Derrick Powers said police took reports of five incidents Saturday in which a thief pilfered an unlocked vehicle, taking everything from CD players to golf clubs.
All of the incidents occurred between Friday night and Saturday morning, Powers said. And because several of the thefts were in the same general area, police speculate the same person or persons might have been involved.
“We aren’t ruling that out,” Powers said. “And it’s a typical number for one night. It’s often the same individual doing it until he gets spooked or gets caught.”
The thefts reported included the following:
• In the 100 block of Sixth Avenue South, a CD player and tools were taken, the missing items valued at about $400. Although the owner told officers he thought the car was locked, the door was ajar and there was no sign of forced entry.
• In the 1000 block of 10th Street South, a CD player faceplate and a backpack – total value $60 – were taken from a car.
• A thief made off with a stereo amplifier, speakers and a subwoofer from a car parked in the 1000 block of Hammond Avenue. There was no value listed for the missing items.
• More than $100 in cash was taken from an unlocked car parked in the 500 block of 12th Street South. The thief emptied the contents of a purse left in the car and took the cash.
• Items valued at more than $1,000 were taken from an SUV parked in the 100 block of Fifth Avenue South. The thief walked off with golf clubs, a set of keys and a keyless remote device.
Thefts of items from cars is often the No. 1 property crime in small communities like Brookings, and Powers and his fellow officers continue to urge residents to lock their cars, even when they’re parked at home in the driveway.
“There’s a national program called “Lock it. Hide it. Or lose it,” Powers said, “that pretty much says it all. Lock your vehicles, and keep your valuables out of the car, or at least hide them if you must have them in your vehicle.
“We want to reduce opportunities where individuals open themselves up to become victims of theft. It only takes a moment for a thief to open your car door and rummage through the vehicle.”
Personal items that owners leave in their cars include loose change, laptop computers, portable music players and wallets or pocketbooks – all among the primary items targeted by thieves.
And while owners may think their cars are safe at home, Powers said, residences are where most of the thefts occur.
Because suburban residential areas are relatively safe and quiet, residents get complacent about car security, national crime studies say. They may leave their car doors unlocked or the keys in the ignition. But oftentimes, their homes’ exterior lighting is inadequate, and tall shrubbery and other landscaping elements can provide thieves with cover.
An entire neighborhood filled with unlocked cars and poorly lit homes with plenty of cover is almost an open invitation to a thief.
Thefts from vehicles usually involve small dollar values in terms of the property stolen, but they take up considerable police resources and increase residents’ fear of crime.
Those who open themselves to theft should know that auto insurance typically does not cover loose items stolen from inside a car, whether they’re locked or unlocked. The things taken – computers or iPods – may be covered under a homeowners or renters policy, but those insurance plans typically have a front-end deductible that exceeds the value of the items stolen.
Powers suggests that car owners put their valuables in the trunk of the car, or at the very least, keep them out of sight under a blanket or on the floor.
It’s been proven that locked vehicles deter most thieves. Finding a car locked, they simply move on to an easier target.
“Just don’t allow yourself to become a victim of an opportunity crime,” the detective says. “Lock your cars.”
Contact Ken Curley at kcurley@-brookingsregister.com.