Avoiding grand theft auto & car break-ins

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:40 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Roanoke Police officers are reminding citizens of some common-sense steps to keep their vehicles and valuables safe.

Police say these incidents are usually crimes of opportunity that present themselves all too often. With people traveling more often, and college kids returning to campus, leaving anything in plain sight can invite thieves into your vehicle.

“If someone is determined, a window’s not going to stop somebody,” says Lt. Eric Thiel with the Roanoke City Police Department. “If they see a pocketbook or a purse or a bag or a laptop or something in the seat, it takes an extra second or two to break a window.”

The first precaution is parking in a well-lit area. Before you leave your vehicle, hide purses and electronics so they’re not in plain sight.

Police say people whose cars are stolen altogether often had the vehicles running unattended, or the keys were left inside the car, and many often forget the easiest and most effective step: locking it up.

Police say the majority of firearms stolen every year are from vehicles, a jackpot for local criminals.

“For whatever reason, people don’t think about it or leave it in their glove box or under the seat or something, and when the car gets broken into those items are very highly valued on the black market and on the street,” explains Lt. Thiel.

If you do have to leave any valuables in the car - say you’re traveling with some luggage or leaving shopping bags in there while you’re out and about - officers suggest leaving it in the trunk.

That way it is not visible for thieves walking by, and they may skip your car and go for an easier target.

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