Hopkins residents were surprised over the weekend when they awoke to find thieves parked in underground garages along Blake Road and Hiawatha Avenue.
Thefts can happen to anyone, but residents can still take action to tilt the odds in their favor. Police Sgt. Michael Glassberg offered these tips to discourage so-called “car prowlers” from targeting your vehicle.
# 1: Take your valuables out of your car.
Glassberg said this the most important action that residents can take to prevent break-ins. Most vehicle thefts are crimes of opportunity, he said. Thieves see a pricy electronic gadget—or a cord that suggests one might be there—and decide to get into the car. If they don’t see anything, they’ll often move on to the next car. And don’t try to throw thieves off by hiding your valuables: “You never know if people are watching or maybe they watched you another day,” Glassberg said.
#2: Don't lock valuables in your trunk after you've reached your destination.
Criminals are often on the lookout at both inside and outside parking areas for people stashing expensive items out of sight.
#3: Stay on the lookout for suspicious activity.
Being observant helps police prevent thefts. Don’t be shy about reporting any activity that you think is off.
#4: Think carefully about locking your car.
Glassberg said he, personally, is always careful to lock his car. But he added that it can be worthwhile to leave a vehicle unlocked in order to prevent damage that occurs during break-ins. After all, thieves will sometimes break into a vehicle even if they don’t see anything valuable. That being said, be certain that you don’t leave anything of value in the vehicle. This doesn’t just mean property that thieves might want. It also means documents with personal information that could be used for identity theft.
#5: Park in heavily trafficked areas.
Thieves are wary of areas where people are most likely to see them breaking into vehicles. Look for the areas with the most eyes, and avoid places that are hidden away from public view. Underground parking garages, where the most-recent thefts took place, are particularly bad because there hidden from both sight and sound. Even secure garages can shelter thieves, who may follow residents inside the garage. “Underground garages are havens for car prowlers,” Glassberg said.