Town Creek Police Chief Jerry Garrett said the public makes it way too easy for thieves to take items from an automobile.
“They don’t lock their cars,” Garrett said.
Local authorities said most of the area’s car burglaries are crimes of opportunity.
“Most of the car burglaries we investigate, it turns out the cars were unlocked and items were left inside,” Florence police detective Lt. Mike Holt said. “People never think about that until it happens to them.”
Garrett said he recently parked at Town Creek Post Office and glanced inside a nearby car.
“The lady’s purse was sitting there on the front seat wide open. Her wallet, credit cards and even cash were just there for the taking,” he said.
When the woman came out of the post office, Garrett said he asked if she had locked her car.
“She hadn’t. Anyone who wanted to could have walked by, opened the door and taken her purse,” Garrett said. “She said she didn’t think about locking the car because she was only going to be gone a couple of
According to Frank Scafidi, director of public affairs for the National Insurance Crime Bureau, in 2011 items were reported stolen in more than
1.3 million automobiles in the U.S.
“The average value of the property taken in those thefts: $818,” Scafidi said. “It’s not cheap stuff that is being taken. And if I had that kind of expensive stuff in my car, I wouldn’t be leaving it out for anyone to see or leaving the car doors unlocked.”
According to a list compiled from research from Yahoo! Inc,, the top items taken are GPS units, car stereo systems, cellphones, iPods and laptops.
Car registration information, third row seats, rims and tires, license plates, truck tailgates and catalytic converters also are targeted by thieves.
“GPS units by far are the No. 1 thing we are seeing now,” Holt said. “People are always leaving things like laptop (computers), iPod, and cellphones in their vehicles. And we still get our share of car burglaries where stereos, CD players and speakers are the targets. So, it looks like our car burglaries are right in line with the list.”
Holt said many thieves walk though neighborhoods “shopping” for victims.
“They walk around going from house to house checking to see if the cars are unlocked,” he said. “If they are, within seconds they’re inside, got whatever, and gone.
“If you’re going to leave items inside an unlocked car, you might as well take the items out and leave them on the hood.”
Garrett laughs when he hears people say that thieves will take anything that isn’t attached to a car.
“That’s not necessarily the case anymore,” he said. “They’ll even take things that are attached.”
He said a few years ago, officers caught some juveniles with cutting tools who were preparing to crawl under a car to cut off the catalytic converter.
“So, I guess we can’t say that they will take anything that isn’t tied down or attached,” Garrett said.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757.