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Over the last several months the Town of Southington and the state of Connecticut has experienced a rash of Vehicle break ins. Acording to the National Crime Prevention Council, one vehicle is stolen every 20 seconds in the United States. While officers are diligently working to solve this problem there are things that residents can do to prevent these crimes:

TIPS TO PREVENT VEHICLE BREAK INS

1. Lock Your Doors: While this piece of advice should be a no-brainer, up to a quarter of vehicle thefts are from unlocked cars, according to some law enforcement agencies. Even if you're running into the store for a Coke, that's too long to leave your vehicle's contents open for the taking. Simply locking doors will deter those who might just be waiting around for an easy target. Keep your vehicle locked with the windows rolled up, even when running errands or when the vehicle is parked in front of your residence.

2. Keep It Tidy: Most thefts are crimes of opportunity. Try to conveal items that must be left in the vehicle so they are not readily visible from the outside. aAlmost any worthless personal item that's visible from the outside -- even an empty shopping bag -- could be seen as a valuable or a carrier of valuables. If you have a wagon or SUV that leaves your cargo area on display, consider getting a cover. Most of these vehicles can be fitted with inexpensive retractable covers to help keep shopping bags or other belongings out of sight. Do not leave cell phones, purses, iPods, iPod adapters, nav-systems (inlcuding the suction cups), or any personal identification items such as credit cards in your vehicle. If you must leave valuables in the vehicle (such as at a mall or restaurant), secure them in the trunk. Mount radios, car phones, radar detectors, and other electronics inconspiculously when possible. If the radios have removeable face plates, remove them! Also maintain records (kept in your residence) of serial and model numbers of any aftermarket electronic equipment installed in the vehicle. Just don't leave bait items out for thieves; stow all your electonics and accessories well out of sight-or better yet, bring them with you. These items alone might be enought to pique the interest of thieves, so hide everything and even put the cigarette lighter back in place. Mark expensive accessories (stereos, speakers, etc.) with an identifying mark.

3. Copy your vehicle ID (VIN#) and tag #s on a card and keep them with your driver's license. Keep copies of the vehicle's registration in your residence.

4. Remove automatic garage door openers from the vehicle when you exit it, as they provide easy access to your residence.

5. If you have an alarm system on your vehicle, activate it every time you exit the vehicle. Respond promptly should it go off.

6. The sound of broken glass my mean a car break-in is occurring. If you hear such, you should: Be sure to look in the direction of the sound and observe as much as possible about what is happening.

7. Stash before -- not after -- you park: Get in the habit of putting shopping bags in the trunk right when you return to the vehicle, rather than after you park at the next place. According to National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) spokesman Frank Scafidi, thieves sometimes linger in busy parking lots looking for valuables being moved out of sight. Don't display to them what you have.

8. Completely close windows and sunroofs: No, it's not just because thieves might reach in through the gap and open your locks with a coat hanger. Open windows will disable the pressure sensor in some car alarms, leaving the vehicle more vulnerable to break-in and potentially giving thieves more time before the alarm sounds

9. Park for Visibility: Park in a busy, well-lit area, and avoid concealment from larger vehicles, fences, or foliage. Except for the most brazen thieves, the greater the chances are that someone might see a crime in progress, the lower the chances are that the potential thief will attempt it. Consider replacing the light fixture closest to your vehicle with a motion detector unit (good psychological deterrents).

10. Layer your Defenses: That's the strategy recommended by the NICB; layers include warning devices such as alarms, wheel etching, or decals; immobilizers; and even tracking systems. "None of them are foolproof, but if they're used in tandem they can really keep the chances down," agrees Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute.

Sources: The National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Insurance Information Institute, Progressive, and AAA.
Finally residents are urged that if you see or hear or anything or anyone suspicious in your neighborhood call the Southington Police at (860) 621-0101



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