How Car Burglars Choose Their Targets

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This post is by Bernie Carr,

This past week I found out there were several car break-ins in our neighborhood.   All the tenants in our building got an announcement from management to be vigilant and lock our cars etc. and many neighbors just shrugged it off.  But I looked into it further and found out some interesting details.  The local constable actually released a statement about the crime wave after they caught a couple of suspects.

How they chose their targets

Nice surroundings

According to the report, the suspects targeted apartment complexes that appeared to be upscale.  While you may not consider yourself “upscale” crooks might have a different view.

Vehicles with specific stickers

Reading through the report, I was very surprised that the criminals actually chose vehicles that had stickers showing some form of law enforcement, police, fire department or military association.  You would think they would steer clear of anything having to do with law enforcement, but in this case, these criminals were actually looking for them.  They surmised that vehicles with these types of stickers had a good chance of having a weapon in the car that they could steal.  Also, cars that had”NRA” stickers were targeted.

Items in plain view

Criminals notice things that may be of no consequence to regular people, such as the loose change in the cup holder, sports equipment, tools, running shoes, grocery or shopping bag in the back seat, even if it might contain trash.  The $0.65 cents you left in plain view may mean nothing to you but may end you costing you a few hundred dollars to fix a broken window.

The constable’s statement does give you a glimpse of how crooks identify their targets.  You may perceive something is so minor you don’t even pay attention to it, but that very same thing can catch a crook’s attention.

Easy to break into

Many of the thefts were crimes of opportunity.  Several victims admitted they left their cars unlocked.  Or, they parked in a dark area that was out of the way from foot traffic or behind some bushes.

How to Avoid Car Break-ins

  • Park in a well-lighted area.
  • Do not leave anything in plain view.
  • Close your windows completely, including the sunroof.
  • Always lock your doors.  Many people actually leave their cars unlocked especially in their driveways or apartment parking lots.
  • If you have an alarm system, make sure it is always on when you leave your car.
  • Protect your car with other security devices such as steering wheel locks, Lo-Jack or another tracking system, etc.
  • Try to park next to a same-sized or smaller vehicle, not one that is large enough to provide cover to thieves.
  • Many preparedness minded folks do carry concealed, or keep a gun in the car for safety.  Unfortunately, thieves love to steal guns as they can easily sell them or use them in other crimes.  If you do carry a gun in your car,  take it with you.  But if you are going to a place where weapons are prohibited, secure your weapon in a lockbox that fits under the seat, in the trunk or is welded to the frame of your car.
  • Be mindful of what clues you are giving crooks, by the stickers displayed in your car.  I do understand that military, police, fire department personnel should be able to display their affiliations proudly, and certainly do not “blame the victim” in this case.  Unfortunately, crooks are always looking as well, so just take the extra steps for safety.

Money-saving deals for you!

Here are a few items that may be helpful for protecting your car and its contents:

The Club Original Steering Wheel Lock - fits most vehicles.  It's an extra deterrent.

Tuffy Under-seat security drawer - durable security drawer, easy to install.

Mr. Beams Wireless LED Spotlight with Motion Sensor - extremely bright LED light, motion sensor.  I have a Mr. Beams motion sensor light indoors that has lasted for five years.

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  1. because I had a car vandalized years ago at collage because I had my NRA sticker on the window I no longer put any type of sticker on my car that I absolutely do not have too. Some of the places I have worked at required a security sticker to enter. This is especially true of political stickers read how many cars have be vandalized because of that. It is not just thieves that you have to look out for there are some folks that let there political view and emotions get out of control. As with the outrage over the “Army of Virginia” battle flag miss know as the Confederate States flag

    1. Hi Ben, Thanks for sharing your story. This is true – thieves will not only target you but others that disagree with your views may attack you. For opsec, I prefer to just leave out any stickers or decals on car windows or door.

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