According to Wellington’s May 2017 Strategic Review by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, there were 37 burglary attempts in Wellington during the month. Of these, the vast majority, 29, were vehicle burglaries. This is not unusual. While the occasional occurrence of more serious crimes grab headlines, vehicle burglaries remain the most common crime in Wellington and the surrounding areas, and they tend to tick up in the summertime.
However, vehicle burglaries are also the most preventable crime. Often a “crime of opportunity,” far too many of these vehicle burglaries are a result of not locking the vehicle — even if just popping into a local convenience store to grab a snack or picking up a child from school. Simply locking the doors will deter those who might just be waiting around for an easy target.
It takes 20 seconds for someone to break into a vehicle, grab things like phones, other electronics, a car stereo, important papers or anything else that looks useful or valuable, and take off. It takes even less time if the vehicle is unlocked.
There are a number of additional ways you can prevent vehicle burglaries. Among them:
• Keep your vehicle tidy. Almost any worthless personal item that is visible from the outside — even an empty shopping bag — could be seen as a valuable or a carrier of valuables. If you have a truck, van or SUV that leaves your cargo area on display, consider getting a cover. Most of these vehicles can be fitted with inexpensive retractable covers to help keep shopping bags or other belongings out of sight.
• Conceal all the evidence. Don’t leave any bait out for thieves; stow your electronics and accessories well out of sight, or better yet, bring them with you. The evidence alone might be enough to pique the interest of thieves, so hide that too, including power plugs, smart phone adapters or navigation system windshield suction-cup mounts. Even put the cigarette lighter or power plug cover back in place.
• Stash before, not after, you park. Get in the habit of putting shopping bags in the trunk right when you return to the vehicle, rather than after you park at the next place. Thieves sometimes linger in busy parking lots looking for valuables being moved out of sight. Don’t display to them what you have.
• 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-in and potentially giving thieves more time before the alarm sounds. Speaking of which…
• Get an alarm. If you don’t have an alarm system on your vehicle, get one. The noise alone may be enough to scare away an inexperienced thief and prevent the break-in. Factory-option alarm systems are generally best, but a carefully installed, properly calibrated aftermarket system can provide just as much safety. Beware, many less-expensive new cars have remote entry, but not a true alarm.
• Stick with the original audio system. Thefts of car audio components are on the decline, but having an aftermarket system still makes a car more attractive to thieves. There’s no black market to speak of for factory stereos, and they’ve become much better sounding in recent years.
• Park for visibility. 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.
• Layer your defenses. Layers include warning devices such as alarms, wheel etching or decals, immobilizers and even tracking systems.
None of these methods are foolproof, but if they’re used in tandem, they can really reduce the chances of becoming a victim. 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.