Amid wave of car theft, key tips to prevent these crimes

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Amid wave of car theft, key tips to prevent these crimes

Graphic by Selina Ding.

Graphic by Selina Ding.

Graphic by Selina Ding.

Graphic by Selina Ding.

By Naren Roy

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Unknown thieves have stolen cash and personal items from parked cars in the Whitman community over the last several weeks, coinciding with a 39 percent increase in the number of stolen vehicles in Montgomery County since last year, according to a May 19 article in Bethesda Magazine.

Although police charged three individuals suspected of stealing cars and committing theft from vehicles in recent weeks, police still believe there are individuals at large perpetrating car-related crimes, according to the same article. Each of the three faces multiple counts of theft in addition to unlawfully taking motor vehicle charges.

The Montgomery County Police Department gives several tips about preventing theft from cars.

Tip #1: Lock your car

It may seem obvious, but about 80 percent of victims who report the crime say they left their vehicles unlocked, said community service officer Oliver Janney, a liaison between MCPD and community members.

“The number one thing is lock your car,” Janney said.

Senior Grace Carter said she forgot to lock her car May 4 or 5, and the next morning she found her glove compartment in disarray and her supply of change missing. Senior Grace Goldman’s family’s car became a target in a similar situation, though ultimately none of their belongings were lost to the thieves.

“They [left] all the doors open and sprawled everything out,” Goldman said. “It was mostly just scary.”

Tip #2: Don’t leave keys or valuables in your car

Leaving valuable items like electronics, money, spare keys and even registration and insurance in vehicles isn’t recommended according to an MCPD theft prevention report.

“We’ve had a couple incidents where [victims] leave the key in one car and maybe they’ve taken the other car or they leave the garage door opener and then [thieves are] able to get inside the garage and then get into the car,” Janney said.

Tip #3: Promptly report all thefts and suspicious behavior promptly

Victims’ reluctance to report car crimes may be preventing more arrests from occurring, Janney said.

“Either it’s not convenient for them, nothing was really taken or what I usually say is maybe they’re embarrassed,” Janney said. “I tell people ‘don’t be embarrassed’—I mean we all make mistakes; it’s not a big deal.”

However, when victims report an incident, police can try to process a vehicle for fingerprints and sometimes collect DNA evidence, Janney said.

“We need to know what incidents are occurring, especially if you’re a victim of a crime.”

Call MCPD at 301-279-8000 to report suspicious neighborhood activity and the same number or 911 for break-ins, observed or discovered.

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