Low-level crimes are frustrating, frightening and expensive for the victims
NEIGHBORHOOD SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD
by Staff Neighborhood Safety Reporter
It’s shocking how many thefts and vandalism happen around us each day. They might be considered ‘low-level crimes’ by the legal system, but they are frustrating, frightening and expensive for the victims. Even with evidence from our security devices, criminals know nothing will happen to them even if they are caught. They could be back on the street in 24 hours or less.
If you wonder what crimes have been reported in YOUR area recently, you can check this CrimeMapping website: (You can also sign up to receive email updates)
“Mitigating your risk” can minimize your chance at becoming a victim of many crimes of opportunity.
Today, let’s look at auto thefts and car prowls. “Lock It, Hide It, Keep It”
It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to:
__ Lock all the car doors and roll up all the windows when leaving your vehicle. Ignore advice to leave the car unlocked to prevent a broken window. You’re more likely to lose your stereo or the entire car.
__ Remove anything that might attract a thief; spare change, mail or documents, backpack, cell phone or laptop, GPS, garage door openers, workout bags, etc. To a thief, coats left innocently piled on a seat might look like you’re hiding a treasure. If your car remains parked outside, you might even consider emptying your glove compartment and leave it open (but, remove the light bulb inside so you don’t drain your battery). When you are shopping at the mall, don’t drop off packages in your car and go back inside to continue shopping; a car prowler could be watching. Instead, load your car and drive to a new spot and re-park.
__ Choose a well-lighted, busy parking area in view of a security camera, if possible.
__ Do not leave your car running when you are not in it; even at the gas station, to get your mail, etc. Likewise, don’t “Remote Start” your car to warm up the engine, heat the car or defrost the windows. Clever crooks sometimes cruise neighborhoods looking for telltale exhaust plumes, then steal the idling car. Besides being unsafe, it is also ILLEGAL:
__ “Bump-and-Rob:” Carjackers may bump your car from the rear, then steal it when you get out to look for damage. When stopped at a traffic light, leave room to maneuver around the vehicle ahead of you. If another car bumps yours and you feel threatened, drive to a populated area. If you have a cellular phone, call the police for assistance.
__ To avoid theft by towing: turn your wheels toward the curb, set the parking brake and leave a manual transmission in gear.
__ If you will be leaving the car for an extended period of time, consider disabling your vehicle. Ask your mechanic, for example, how to remove the starter relay.
__ Guard against a “fob job” or ‘relay attack’. Car-theft rings have gone high-tech and use the key fob inside your home to gain access to your car outside. Your car is unlocked by amplifying the signal from your keyless fob to fool your car into unlocking it. For some push-to-start cars, the thief could even drive away, since the engine will run when it's out of range of your fob until the driver shuts it off or the car runs out of gas. Safeguard your keyless fob in a pouch that blocks radio signals (similar to an RFID-blocking sleeve for your credit card), or even inside a metal coffee can!
__ Park inside your locked garage!
__ Consider purchasing some aftermarket security items: alarm system that can disable the vehicle if activated, locking devices for the steering wheel, floor board, gear shift or tires. Or even a simple motion sensor alarm.
__ Consider a GPS tracking system (OnStar, LoJack or hidden tagging devices with apps you can use on your mobile device to track where the vehicle is located). Having one might even qualify you for an auto insurance discount. Do not try to recover your stolen vehicle yourself. That could be dangerous. Give the GPS information to the police when you report the vehicle is stolen so the police can perform recovery.
__ If you live in a residential community with a bulletin board or common area, you might want to print and post the following safety sign from the Bellevue Police Department:
If you are a victim of vehicle theft:
__ Contact police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. Get a copy of the police report and/or a case number to provide to your insurance company.
__ Be prepared to provide the following information: license plate number; make, model, and color of your vehicle, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and any identifying characteristics.
__ Contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours of your vehicle being stolen.
__ If you find your vehicle before authorities do, contact the police and your insurance company immediately.