With larcenies from unlocked cars on the rise, police are reminding citizens to secure their vehicles at all times.
Reports of thefts from unlocked vehicles have seen a sizeable increase this year, according to a quarterly newsletter released by the James City County Police Department Thursday.
Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 1, 2017, there were 217 reported thefts from unlocked vehicles in James City County. That is an increase of 40.9 percent over the same period in 2016, during which time there were 154 reports, the newsletter stated.
“It’s a crime of opportunity, unfortunately,” said police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams. “It’s an easy crime for people to commit. If you remove the opportunity, you’re helping to prevent crime.”
Larcenies from vehicles make up more than a quarter of all larcenies reported to police, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The newsletter said residents of neighborhoods can become complacent about their vehicles due to the relative safety and quietness of their surroundings. Most thefts from suburban neighborhoods occur at night, as thieves are able to take advantage of the cover of darkness.
The department has released the following tips to guard against thefts from vehicles:
- ALWAYS lock all your doors and close all windows on your vehicle.
- Never leave your car running while you run into a convenience store, go to the ATM, etc.
- Remove all valuables from the vehicle.
- Do not keep a spare or valet key in your vehicle. This can make it easier for a thief to steal your vehicle.
- Do not store the title to your vehicle inside your vehicle. This should be kept in a fire box or other safe location. Should your vehicle be stolen, your signature could be forged to make it appear as if you sold your vehicle.
- Make certain your vehicle is in an area that is well lit. Good lighting is a good way to reduce a thief’s ability to hide under the cover of darkness.
- Get a locking gas cap. If your vehicle does not already have one, it helps prevent fuel siphoning and vandalism.
- Be safe and do not confront a thief. If you see someone attempting to or actively going through your vehicle, call the police immediately. The thief could be armed and dangerous.