I live in South San Francisco, CA wherein, according to police reports, cases of auto break-ins had spiked 30 percent since last summer as crooks prey upon vacationers and business travelers carrying GPS (Global Position System) devices in their cars. The said operations, referred to by cops as smash-and-grab robberies have been on the rise across the nation as GPS devices have attracted high selling prices on online retail sites.
These devices are seen being sold at $400 a pop on websites such as eBay and Craigslist. According to police statistics, half of the reported car burglaries in the last three months have involved GPS devices.
Many GPS thieves scour hotel strips and business parks to find vehicles, often rental cars, with the device left in the dash. Thieves know that hotels have tourists who do not know the areas, so they have GPS in their cars to find their way around.
Car break-ins are getting more common with criminals because it is easier to commit and, oftentimes, it is tough for police to solve. Unlike victims of auto theft who find their cars missing from the spot they left them, victims of auto break-ins would find their car windows and belongings missing. Other belongings that are oftentimes left inside the car that are popular amongst thieves aside from GPS devices are: laptops, handheld devices such as Blackberries, cell phones, iPods, etc.
Car alarms, oftentimes, does not deter robbers. It only takes a few minutes for them to break windows, grab the belongings, and be out of the way by the time the police responds to calls (if someone happens to take notice and call 911). So what can people do to minimize or prevent auto-break-ins?
1) Lock doors, close windows– although thieves can still break the windows, it is easier for them to get what they are after if your doors are unlocked and windows open. In other words, if there are two cars side by side, they would go for the one that is easier to get into. Oftentimes, in a crowded parking lot, where people are around, the thieves would not waste time to break windows and draw attention to them.
2) Park in secure, well-lit area- if you are parking at the hotel grounds, choose the area closest to the entrance, and make sure you parked in an area where it is well-lit. Same thing if you are parking in the streets if you are visiting friends, make sure to park closer to the street lamp posts.
3) Conceal items of value- robbers oftentimes would choose the cars they know for sure they will be able to get something. If they do not see them, they will not waste time opening or smashing windows and looking for things to steal.
4) Place large packages in trunk- if you keep large packages in the trunk it will not attract the robber’s attention.
5) Avoid frequent car trips to stow things when shopping- most robbers are just on a look out of things to steal. If they see you coming back to store your purchases, and then you leave to continue shopping, they already know they have items of value to steal. So once you leave, chances are, they will go after your belongings.
6) Be aware of surroundings- be alert at all times. If you see anybody suspicious standing or walking around, or just inside their cars parked for a long time, try to avoid them, or park somewhere else.
7) Install warning devices- although they are not complete deterrents, alarms and other warning devices are still helpful in more ways than one. Robbers who would try to do the deed in a public place would not want attention to them when the alarm goes off, so if they see these warning devices, they will avoid your car.
8) Park your car inside the garage- if you live in a residential neighborhood, you should park your car inside the garage instead of the driveway or the streets to avoid being burglarized.
Hopefully these tips would be of help to anyone who reads this article. Car theft and break-ins are common crimes that can plague any city, so be wary at all times.