Over the past several weeks, our area has seen a marked increase of vehicle break-in reports. We are aware of an increased number of occurrences within Kennett Township as well as in the neighboring communities of Kennett Square Borough, West Grove Borough, and New Garden Township. We would like to take a moment to explain the nature of these reports, how the crimes are committed, and how residents can protect their property.
The term vehicle "break-in" in a little bit misleading. This implies that doors are pried, locks are picked, or windows are smashed. Rarely do we find that cars are actually broken into. Criminals, often, just don't put that much effort into this type of crime. Why would they? Picking locks and prying doors takes time, and smashing windows makes a lot of noise. Those are factors that increase the chances of getting caught... and well, a pair of bent up sunglasses, a few dollars in spare change, and some emergency jumper cables just aren't worth that kind of risk.
A far less-risky option is to walk down the street, late at night or early in the morning, and casually pull on door handles and try one's luck with unlocked cars. If a door is locked, criminals most often move along. If a door is unlocked, they tend to help themselves to the vehicle's contents. In many cases, vehicle owner's are alarmed and even infuriated to find that someone has entered their vehicle and rifled through their belongings. It's an imposition and a violation of personal space and property. However, they are often relieved to report that nothing of significant value was in their vehicle to be stolen. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Thieves often search vehicles for wallets, cash, credit cards, gift cards, and even... your car keys! Surprisingly, they are often get lucky. The theft of one's wallet could lead to further crimes of credit card fraud or identity theft and if they find your car key... inside your unlocked car... it probably won't stay where you parked it.
As we enter into the holiday season, we recognize that people get busy, rush around, and sometimes make forgetful mistakes. However, we would like to offer the following tips to help safeguard your property:
- Always lock your vehicle and roll up your windows. Most times, thieves will move on.
- Never leave valuables in plain sight. When I walk through parking lots, I often notice purses left on the front passenger seat of empty cars. If I notice it, thieves notice it! This also applies to packages and shopping bags.
- Never leave your car keys in your car. Locked or unlocked, the temptation is just too great for someone who is already looking to commit a crime and make a big score.
- Consider inexpensive home security cameras. Many are easy to install and connect to your WiFi.
- Report suspicious activity. Often, these crimes occur during late-night or early morning hours. If you see something out of the ordinary, call 911 and an officer will swing by and check it out.
- Never approach or confront someone you suspect is up to no good. Call 911 and let an officer investigate.
We hope this information is helpful and wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season!