As the cold season begins to set in, the Columbus Division of Police is beginning to remind drivers to lock up their cars and turn them off, due to the high number of drivers who leave their cars unlocked and running in order to stay warm within the cold weather. As a result of people leaving their cars open to a vulnerable state, inviting thieves to aim to jump in and drive away. The occurrence is much more common than most of us realize or want to acknowledge.
One woman who had to, unfortunately, learn the lesson of leaving her car unlocked was Paula, who reported that the event had happened quickly and two men stole her Chevy Cruze as it was warming up in front of her home. She had been standing at her front door preparing to get her daughter ready to go to school as the two men jumped into the car and took off with it. She felt powerless and violated in the moment, due to the fact that two people had been driving in her car and she could do nothing about it.
The two men who had taken the car had been described as wearing a blue hoodie for the driver, and a grey hoodie for the passenger. The Chevy Cruze that had been stolen has not yet been recovered from the thieves, but it has been described as having a red steering wheel cover with silver glitter on it, as well as the rear license plate also being glittery.
The case of the cars being stolen, however, is not a rare one. Since November 1st, all the way up to when Paula had had her own car stolen, 31 total cars had been reported as stolen to the Columbus Police, with eight of those being taken in just one weekend. The Police are strongly pushing for people to stop leaving their cars unattended, due to it causing danger for the entire city, not just the one person that owns the vehicle.
The important thing to remember when you’re looking into what to do to protect yourself and your vehicle is to look into basic ways of preventing car theft. Auto theft as a whole has decreased over the last few decades, but according to the Insurance Information Institute, a car or another form of transportation gets stolen in the United States every 40.9 seconds.
As our technology and our forms of transportation evolve and grow, so does the savviness of the thieves who target those vehicles. Thieves have begun to use smart keys to steal cars, as well as switching vehicle identification numbers in order to avoid detection. With these evolutions in how things occur and what happens as a whole, it’s easy to wonder what you can truly do to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of auto theft. While there’s always exceptions to scenarios, there are several ways to go about lowering the risk of it happening to you.
The most obvious one, and something that those within Columbus have had to learn, is to lock your doors. Some thieves will walk past a car of interest and their first instinct will be to pull the door to see if it is unlocked. While others may choose to continue with the attempt to steal the car regardless of if it is locked or not, having a locked door is sometimes all that is needed to turn a potential thief away from attempting it.
As well as this, it is best to not leave your keys in or near the ignition. All it takes for a thief to get inside of a car is to break the window and drive off when the keys are within reach in this way. Common occurrences of this scenario is if someone decides to leave their car running as they run into their house to grab something, or if they stop by a store to do a quick errand. Leaving spare keys near your vehicle also is an invitation for many thieves to break into a car and steal it. Many thieves are aware of the tricks that some people choose to do, such as hiding a spare key underneath the car or in the glove box in case of them ever getting locked out or losing their main key. Therefore, it’s best to just deal with the possible hassle of losing your key or getting locked out and having to call a locksmith, rather than risking your entire car being stolen from you.
Some of us are guilty of leaving our windows rolled down during the hot months to keep our cars cooled off as well, or at least we will leave them somewhat cracked. However, leaning the windows even a little bit open allows for someone to reach in and easily unlock the car. While this does not always mean that they will be able to drive off with your car, this does give the thief full access to the inside of your car, and potentially any belongings that you keep within it. As such, it’s best to not leave more valuables of yours inside of your car than you need to, in case a scenario like this were to happen. If a thief broke into your car and did not drive off with it, you would at least be able to rest easy knowing that they did not steal more of your belongings than necessary.
Finally, another simple thing you can do is park your vehicle inside of a garage, or in a well-lit area. This allows for thieves to be a lot more hesitant on stealing anything from you, due to the fact that they are much more likely to be seen breaking into a garage, or breaking into a car when it is daylight. As a result, both you and your belongings, and your vehicle, will be much more safe in the long run.
If you wish to warm up your car, practice safety and stay in your car or near it as it warms up, rather than leaving it unattended within a driveway or parking lot.