Don't Go to Sleep Without Doing This First, Police Say in New Warning
Authorities stress the importance of taking these "basic steps."
We all want to go to sleep at night without worrying about our security or our family's well-being. But unfortunately, there are criminals who threaten our safety, and most of them prefer to do so after the sun goes down. In light of a new crime trend, police have sent out an urgent warning about a necessary step you need to take to keep yourself and your belongings safe. Read on to find out what they're asking you to do before you go to bed.
Keeping your home protected is no easy feat.
Police regularly issue warnings about new tricks burglars, thieves, and other criminals are employing to gain entry to your home. Even if you have a security system, you could fall for simple cons: A few of the latest schemes involve thieves putting themselves in disguises, fooling you by donning pest control uniforms, or inquiring about home repairs or water problems. Once they've gained a bit of your trust, suspects will enter your home and steal jewelry, money, and other valuables.
Cars are also a common target for criminals, and they've started placing fraudulent parking tickets on windshields and scam QR codes on parking meters in order to steal your money. These crimes normally occur in public settings, but your car isn't even safe outside of your own home, police now say.
A pattern has emerged among recent break-ins.
Police in New York issued a warning to residents after a slew of car break-ins in recent weeks. In a Crime Prevention Alert posted on Facebook on Sept. 21, the East Hampton Town Police Department stated that they are "experiencing another string of vehicle thefts and larcenies from vehicles parked in driveways across the east end."
The string of crimes appear to be part of a larger organized effort, according to The East Hampton Star, affecting Montauk, Amagansett, and Springs, New York. As of Sept. 29, no suspects had yet been identified.
Police say most thefts have a crucial similarity.
Thieves are stealing wallets, individual debit cards, purses, and iPhones in the dark of night, per The East Hampton Star, and some were even bold enough to steal entire vehicles. A 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee was taken from a resident's driveway in Montauk, which was later identified by police using a license-plate tracker.
"We are working with all of our victims to identify possible suspects at this time," Sgt. Ryan Hogan, spokesperson for East Hampton Town police, told the outlet.
Crucially, it appears that criminals are generally—but not always—targeting unlocked vehicles. As such, police asked residents to "please take some basic steps to help us protect your property."
"Please lock your vehicles, remove keys or key fobs and take any valuable items from your vehicle, lock your home and be alert to suspicious activity during overnight hours," the Facebook post from the police department reads.
This trend isn't specific to New York.
Making matters worse, these thefts aren't isolated incidents, as similar reports have surfaced across the country. Police in Westlake, Ohio were investigating four break-ins of unlocked vehicles earlier this month, WOIO reported.
In late August, Ashville, Ohio, experienced a rash of break-ins overnight, with "dozens" of unlocked vehicles targeted, according to The Scioto Post. Again, police asked residents to always lock their car doors and avoid leaving wallets, valuables, as well as firearms inside.
The Village of Hinsdale Police Department in Illinois also cautioned residents about "a lot of overnight stolen auto activity" in the area, with offenders again going after unlocked vehicles where owners also left key fobs inside. "Although Hinsdale has not lost any vehicles in this recent spree; we want residents to know that offenders are clearly attempting to work the neighborhoods in our area to find cars to steal," the Facebook post reads. "Don't give them the opportunity."
Police further stressed that locking car doors and securing fobs "every single night" assists in patrol duties and "keeping the bad guys out of town."