Auto burglaries are the most common criminal matter we face. Although they typically involve relatively low dollar amounts, they create a hassle for residents, erode neighbors’ feelings of safety and security, and ultimately affect our insurance premiums. Most concerning, each successful burglary creates a more inviting environment in the mind of a criminal and emboldens him or her for the next act.
Law enforcement officers consider auto burglaries a crime of opportunity, and easy targets create more opportunity. Your best option is to store vehicles inside your garage. If you cannot do this, a few simple steps can greatly reduce the likelihood of this crime and dampen our neighborhood’s appeal to would-be thieves.
Past conventional wisdom has sometimes included keeping car doors unlocked to reduce the risk of a broken window. What law enforcement has reported, however, is that this action only encourages criminals to return to a neighborhood.
Install out-of-reach motion-sensor flood lights around the perimeter of your home and move any cars that cannot fit inside of your garage into the driveway each night.
Report any nearby malfunctioning streetlights directly to TECO. You may use their Lights Out form (available at http://www.tampaelectric.com) or call (813) 223-0800. You’ll be asked to provide the pole number (posted on each pole) and the pole’s physical address.
When thinking about valuables, it is important to understand a criminal’s mindset. Although many of us may not think much about a few dollars of stolen loose change, criminals frequently use loose change to purchase drugs. With drugs available for only $10 on the street, a little loose change can become a big motivator to the wrong person.
For newer vehicles, check with the manufacturer to see if the vehicle integrates with a smartphone app (e.g., Ford’s SecuriAlert). Some of these apps can provide useful information, including an audible alert if the vehicle door is opened during the night.
If your vehicle has keyless entry, move the FOB as far away from the front of your home as possible or place it in a protective sleeve (like RFID sleeves for credit cards) to reduce the likelihood of criminals using a secondary device to thwart your system.
Sources: Florida Attorney General’s Office; “Crime Prevention Starts with You” presented by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Tampa Police Department at the Hillsborough County Neighborhood Conference (May 2015); The Center for Problem-Oriented Policing; Multiple HCSO and TPD Informal Interviews and Discussions