NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

December 11, 2012

Banding together to stop car thieves

Bill Steeves
Newburyport Police

---- — The warmer weather has left us for the time being, but there are still people out and about at night. A recent spike in thefts from motor vehicles in our community during the evening and overnight hours has provided inspiration for this month’s article.

Items taken in the vehicle break-ins include GPS devices, laptop computers, cellphones and other small items, not to mention cash. Almost every incident regarding past thefts of this nature involve an unlocked vehicle. In my 13 years with the department, I can’t remember the number of times I have heard victims say, “I have never had to lock my car!” Newburyport is a safe community, but we have our share of problems just like most other cities and towns.

The Los Angeles Police Department started a program called “Lock it, Hide it, Keep it,” which has been very effective in mobilizing the community in terms of alerting residents to secure their homes and vehicles to reduce the opportunities for thieves to steal from them. The program has three simple steps:

Lock it — Your vehicle’s locks and security systems are there for a very good reason. Simply lock your vehicle and home every time you are away. I have seen that on most, if not all, of the calls we receive concerning car break-ins, the vehicles were unlocked. Often, other vehicles that were locked near the ones broken into were not touched. It’s a very simple step that seems to make a huge difference. If it’s worth keeping, it’s worth safeguarding.

Hide it — If you must leave valuables in your vehicles, place them in the glove box, center console or trunk. Out of sight greatly diminishes the temptation to break in.

Keep it — It’s your stuff ... protect it! Small steps make a big difference.

Please pass this information on to your neighbors and help them avoid becoming victims. We are all in this together.

As I have said in the past, help us help the community. If you see someone acting suspiciously in your neighborhood, please call the police and let us know. The more eyes we have out there, the better. It doesn’t hurt for us to check on someone who may or may not belong there. It reassures the community and puts the bad guys on notice that the entire community is watching them.

If you are out on the streets walking home one of these nights and you are tempted to break into a vehicle ... be careful. We will be out watching closely and may just be waiting for you. You will be arrested and prosecuted. We take this offense very seriously and will be looking for you.

I hope this article was helpful and has inspired you to get involved. Like all of you, I want to keep my stuff.

As always, please feel free to contact me with questions and/or suggestions at wsteeves@newburyportpolice.com or leave me a voicemail at 978-462-4411, ext. 1015. Be safe and be good to each other.

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Sgt. Bill Steeves is the night supervisor for the Newburyport Police Department. His columns appear regularly in The Daily News.