November 3, 2015

Steps to Car Prowl Prevention

In 2014, vehicle burglaries accounted for 42% of our total theft crimes in the City of Santa Cruz. Car prowls are crimes of opportunity. An offender makes a split second decision to break into a vehicle based on a perception that there are items of value in that vehicle, which makes the potential payoff worth the risk.
Although there is no profile of a typical car prowler, we know a number of offenders break into vehicles to support drug addictions. A car prowl and break in can be completed in a minute or less. It can happen anytime of day or night. Most often they enter into the vehicle through an unlocked door, breaking a window, or using a wedge to gain access.

The suspect car prowler often wears a backpack or bag to transport stolen items. They often walk or bike to canvas a neighborhood looking for an opportunity to steal. Anything inside the car is fair game to these criminals.

Car prowl is one of the easiest crimes to prevent with increased awareness and a change in habits. 
The following steps will reduce the chances that your vehicle will be targeted: 
Keep the interior of your car “showroom” clean. Never leave valuables, including bags, purses, wallets, briefcases, laptops, cell phones, loose change, or anything that may appear valuable to a thief in plain view. Offenders have broken in to vehicles for items such gym bags because they assumed there were electronic devices and valuable items inside the bag.
Hide chargers and accessories that indicate a GPS, mobile phone, or other device may be stashed in your vehicle. • Remove garage door openers, key cards, and house or work keys from the car so that a prowler cannot gain access to your home.
Don’t store or leave credit cards, identification or personal information in your glove box or anywhere in your car.

Car prowls are a gateway to other crime like: • Identity Theft • Burglaries • Vehicle Theft
If you have to leave valuables in your car, put them in the trunk before you arrive at your destination.
If your car is parked in a carport or near your house, leave your exterior lights on throughout the night. Light Motion detectors are good deterrent. , The lights make the prowler or thief more visible.

Improve visibility where your car is parked. If you park on the street, choose a well-lighted.
Use a mechanical locking device such as a club that locks to the steering wheel, column, or brake.
Neighborhood Watch - Get to know your neighbors; share contact information – phone numbers, emails – and look out for each other. The people who live on your block are the most likely to recognize suspicious people or suspicious activity. • Be observant when you exit or enter your parked vehicle, stop and take a look around the area. • Report any suspicious activity to the police.

What to Do if Your Car is Broken Into - If your car is broken into, report the crime to the police. If it’s a crime in progress, call 9-1-1. Take note of any details of the suspect(s), vehicles, and or activities, and share your observations with the police.