Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Is your vehicle a target for thieves?

or a crime to take place, three elements must be present: (1) Desire (2) Ability and (3) Opportunity. To have a desire to commit a crime encompasses many facets of psychological human behavior. Family values, social status, education and religion all play a role in forming desire.

Ability to commit a crime is dependent upon the individual's capability to perform the crime, which varies from person to person. The capacity to alter either desire or ability is very difficult from a law enforcement perspective. Eliminating the desire to commit a crime requires education both for the perpetrator as well as the potential victim. If a person has an understanding of the consequences faced when considering committing a crime such as fines, jail, criminal record and victim's loss they might choose not to perform the illegal act. Furthermore, when a person is educated in good crime prevention techniques that they abide by, the opportunity for the perpetrator is taken out of the equation and a crime can not be committed.

Over the past several weeks, and even months, Sandy City has been plagued with theft from vehicles, or vehicle burglaries. While the Police Department is doing all they can to combat this crime, we need your help. Through education and by following the simple prevention advice you can drastically reduce your chances of becoming a victim of this all too common crime.

Vehicle burglaries are one of the most prevalent crimes not only in Sandy City, but nation wide. A vehicle burglary occurs when anything is taken out of your vehicle without your permission. This crime takes on average only 7 seconds to get in and 90 seconds to complete. It is a crime that none of us are immune to and therefore must all be aware of. Vehicle burglaries are very difficult cases for law enforcement officials to solve. The reason being there is usually very little physical evidence left behind after one has occurred. The crimes usually occur in apartment, gym, retail store, and reception center or business parking lots. However, they frequently occur on residential streets, driveways and in garages as well.

Most vehicle burglaries occur from simple negligence on each of our parts. Things such as leaving car doors unlocked and/or windows down, and keeping valuables in the car can attract a vehicle burglar. If you fit into the categories above, look out! You could be the next victim. No vehicle is secure and nothing left inside a vehicle is secure. Vehicle burglars are looking for a quick in and out. They are able to gain access quickly by breaking windows or through open doors and/or windows. Once access has been made, they look to take things such as CD's, backpacks, money, day planners and palm pilots, cell phones, clothing, laptops, purses, stereo equipment, books, packages and so forth. All of these items make for quick cash and can even lead to further crimes such as fraud, forgery and identity theft. Fraud, forgery, and identity theft can effect victims for months to come.

The biggest reason vehicle burglar's commit this crime is for the quick cash. However, according to Roy Stevens, convicted career thief "the basic answer is that I like having things…Sometimes it is easier to just steal…there is enormous thrill in the crimes…it is a hobby…it has become my way of life." These are common phrases from other perpetrators that the police department has interviewed as well.

Most recently the Sandy City Police apprehended a suspect in connection with a string of vehicle burglaries. The suspect was addicted to methamphetamine and was breaking into cars to get what ever he could to get money to buy more methamphetamine. When we apprehended this particular suspect, he had several sets of car keys, cellular telephones, check books, drivers licenses', credit cards, social security cards and other paraphernalia. He was looking for an easy target. Once these things were in his possession he would either use them to his benefit or sell them to other criminals in exchange for more methamphetamine.

Unfortunately, the above scenario is not uncommon. These types of criminals, especially those addicted to drugs, look for the easy target. They sleep during the day and are out at night. They are in your neighborhood as well as mine. Be mindful of these things and keep valuables out of the car and lock the doors!

Don't tempt criminals such as Roy Stevens and others by leaving things in your car. All items should preferably be removed or at least put in the trunk where they are out of view. If nothing is there, nothing can be taken and the burglar will move on. Also, get in the habit of always closing your windows and locking your doors. An open door or window and things left in the car are a welcome invitation to a thief.

(Article courtesy of Amy Bryant, Crime Prevention Specialist, Sandy City Police Department)