Keep Thieves from Targeting Your Car This Holiday Season
Posted December 5, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
WAKE FOREST — Talk about the Grinch stealing Christmas! Having your car stolen over the holidays is another guaranteed spirit-dampener.
And while more warnings usually are issued around this time of year, car thefts and break-ins are increasing all over the Triangle.
It is fairly easy to avoid becoming a victim -- and it is very easy to avoid becoming a car thief's dream.
Car break-ins and thefts are on the rise. Police say 95 percent of the crimes could have been avoided if drivers simply locked their vehicle's doors.
Wake Forest is fairly typical in regard to the problem. It is a small town, but it has a big problem with car crimes.
In a random survey of the parking lot at Wake Forest/Rolesville High School, with police officers, some situations were found that would make many criminals happy.
In one instance, the door was unlocked and some keys were left on the floorboard. A few feet away, another car had an unlocked door and there was a purse on the front seat.
"I left mine unlocked this morning just because I was late for school and didn't have time to walk around to the other side and lock it. So I guess I'm one of those naive people who trusts," said student Holly Baldwin.
Even though it is a year-round problem, the warnings go out every holiday season. Lock car doors. Do not leave valuables, including holiday purchases, in plain sight.
For thieves, parking lots -- at shopping centers, doctors' offices, the library, and church can offer a lot of window shopping. Cell phones, CD players -- you name it -- and more purses.
If someone were intent on stealing, there were at least two purses to work from at the high school. And one had a key chain attached, so if they were able to recognize the purse's owner, they could go to the house while the owner was in school.
But it's not only teens or teachers who leave vehicles unlocked.
A delivery truck driver left his rig unlocked while he used the restroom at a convenience store.
He came out, and his cell phone, credit cards and cash were gone.
At the Market of Wake Forest, officers say other drivers made bad decisions.
One construction worker even left tools in his truck bed.
The warnings go out every year, but each year there are more victims.
Police say another problem on the rise is "heat-and-run" car thefts. In the cold morning weather, some drivers leave their cars running, and go indoors while the engine warms up. While they have one last cup of coffee and glance at the paper, their car is being driven down the street.
Several cars, especially in Durham, have been stolen while the unsuspecting drivers try to keep warm.
If you do not make it easy for the criminals, maybe you will not be a crime victim.