Tips to prevent a break-in to your vehicle
Enjoying a hike, spending time with canine companions at the dog park, or watching a child or grandchild play sports could mean your vehicle is an easy target for thieves.
“Thieves watch for people to get out of their vehicles, and they see people leaving things,” said Deputy Cocha Heyden, public information officer for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO). “They see people put stuff in their trunks and cover up items with jackets and they wait to watch that person leave,” she added. “Before you know it, they’ve broken the window.”
Thieves will steal anything valuable, but the most common items stolen from vehicles tend to be purses, wallets, keys and identification cards. DCSO reminds drivers to remove those items from vehicles and make sure to always lock the car doors.
“The best way to protect yourself is don’t leave valuables in the car,” added Heyden. “Take it with you or leave it at home.”
Heyden recommends surveying your surroundings before leaving your vehicle parked at trailheads, dog parks or youth sporting events. Look for suspicious activity in the parking lot and if warranted, call the DCSO non-emergency phone number at 303-660-7505.
“The most important thing is to make sure that our citizens or those that visit our community are not victimized,” said Heyden. “You are never bothering us if you call.”
Heyden further noted that there are crews throughout the county that tend to target parks and open space trails close to major highways so they don’t get stuck in a neighborhood they’re unfamiliar with.
“We do have quite a few that are adjacent to some major highways, like I-25, Lincoln, down by Greenland, where they’re in and out very quickly,” Heyden shared. “Before the person is even done with their walk, the thieves have used their credit card.”
Heyden says thieves use stolen credit cards to buy items quickly before transactions are declined. They also cash checks to get quick cash. DCSO has been working with grocery stores to prevent some theft by putting limits on gift card purchases.
“Self-checkout is super convenient, but it’s gold for criminals because they can do their transaction without being questioned,” said Heyden. “It should raise red flags when you have someone buying 10 $500 gift cards. That’s just not normal.”
Most Douglas County parks and open space trails have posted signs warning people to remove valuables from vehicles and report any suspicious activity to prevent theft, but most don’t have surveillance cameras. “We need citizens to be our good eyes and ears to report anything that’s suspicious,” concluded Deputy Heyden.
Article by Mindy Stone Tappan; photo courtesy of Douglas County Sheriff’s Office