It takes 20 seconds for someone to break into a vehicle, grab things like electronics, a car stereo, important papers, CDs or anything else that looks useful or valuable, and take off. There has been a recent increase of Wellington residents who can attest to this.
Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Rolando Silva reported this week to the Wellington Village Council that the recent uptick in break-ins has resulted in the creation of a new regional PBSO task force called “Operation Vigilance.” The collaborative effort has resulted in both a reduction of vehicle burglaries and an increase in felony and misdemeanor arrests.
While the spate of vehicle burglaries earlier this month was unusually large, this particular crime is one that has plagued Wellington, and other area communities, seasonally for many years. It is the ultimate crime of opportunity — see something valuable, grab it and go.
Of course, there are a number of ways that area residents can reduce the odds of being a victim, hopefully not even needing assistance from the PBSO. The most obvious one is to always lock your vehicle. The vast majority of reported burglaries in Wellington are to unlocked vehicles. Further, according to numerous crime-fighting sources, up to 25 percent of vehicle thefts are a result of not locking the car — even if just popping into a local convenience store to grab a snack. Simply locking the doors will deter those who might just be waiting around for an easy target.
You should also completely close windows and sunroofs, and not just because thieves might reach in through the gap and open your locks. Open windows can disable the pressure sensor in some car alarms, leaving the vehicle more vulnerable to break-ins and potentially giving thieves more time before the alarm sounds.
Speaking of which, if you don’t have an alarm system, get one. The noise alone may be enough to scare away an inexperienced thief and prevent a break-in. Factory-option alarm systems are generally best, but a carefully installed, properly calibrated after-market system can provide just as much safety.
Thieves are also deterred by cars where there are no apparent items in plain view. Almost any worthless personal item visible from the outside — even an empty shopping bag — could be seen as valuable or a carrier of valuables. Don’t leave any potential bait out for thieves; stow electronics and accessories well out of sight (or, better yet, bring it with you). Attractive items include power plugs, iPod adapters and nav-system windshield suction-cup mounts. Even visible loose change can be enough for a potential break-in to take place.
Finally, when parking, park in a busy, well-lit area, and avoid concealment from larger vehicles, fences or foliage. Except for the most brazen thieves, the greater the chances are that someone might see a crime in progress, the lower the chances are that the potential thief will attempt it.
The more vigilant you are in locking your vehicle and keeping valuables out of sight, the more likely it is that you will not become another statistic.