Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Take your GPS with you

One of the more serious crime problems in Lincoln for many years has been larceny from automobiles--cars that are broken into in order to steal property. This is one of the most common ways citizens in Lincoln are victimized by crime. We work very hard on these crimes, and we get many good tips from watchful citizens who observe car prowling.

In recent years, there have been some good healthy reductions in these offenses. This year, though, the numbers have been up 4%. As of midnight, we have investigated 2,883 larcenies from auto in 2007. During the same time period in 2006, the total stood at 2,762. Here's the trend over the past five years (click to enlarge):

That's a reduction of 46%--more than $900,000--not counting the inflation that occurred during that time period.

Hot items in Lincoln for these crimes have changed over time, from CB radios in the 1970's to car stereos in the 1980s, and CDs in the 1990's. Lately, iPods, cell phones, laptops, and other personal electronics have been common targets. Around the country, portable GPS units, catalytic converters, and airbags have been hot commodities for such thieves. We haven't seen much of this in Lincoln--yet.

My prediction is that GPS unit theft in Lincoln will pick up big time in the next several months. These units are much more widely available, more affordable, and are growing in popularity. The high value and small size of portable GPS units will be irresistible to thieves. Best protection: stow your unit and it's mounting hardware out of sight (better yet, take it with you), and keep a microfiber cloth in the glove box so you can wipe off that tell-tale circle where the suction cup sticks to the windshield, a sign that there may be a unit loose in the console or glove box.

Oh, and park your car in the garage or driveway if possible--even if you have to do that three-car-monte maneuver the next morning. It makes a big difference in reducing your risk (scroll down and check out the table about half way through this page from the Problem-Oriented Policing Center).


Anonymous said...

Those popular subwoofer boxes are tasty targets, as are amplifiers and installed aftermarket speakers. If your stereo faceplate is removable - then remove it! Many times, with multi-car, multi-generational households, the kids will often have the nicest (or at least the loudest) car stereos, and they also don't get a garage stall (those go to the people making the mortgage payments, of course).

Put a "club" on your steering wheel. In addition to making your airbag a little bit harder to boost, it also gives the strong visual hint that the owner of the car is security-minded and less likely than most to leave swag in the car. You can't prevent theft, but you can deter it by hardening the target, as well as not having any swag visible. Make the next guy's car a more appealing target than your car.

You can't outrun the bear, and he's probably going to get one of you, but you just don't want to be the slowest guy, if you get my point.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chief, we just installed a mercury vapor 175 watt yard lamp in our area off of 20th and superior, Mark IV estates. Its been long over due and our neighbors are elated. Now we can say to people looking for our house to watch for the brightest light on 20th street. Heres the question. Does lighting deter crime, or help the crooks see better at night?

Tom Casady said...

Well put, 10:59!

Also, keep in mind that your CD case (even if empty) still looks like a stack of dollar bills laying on the console, and your backpack (though containing only your algebra notes) still looks like a Dell laptop, an Apple iTouch, and a MasterCard to the nose pressed against the window. You don't want that bear taking a chunk out of you before he figures out you're not too tasty, afterall.

Tom Casady said...


Well, this is one of the most commonly researched questions in the field of crime prevention, and the answer (IMHO)is, "We don't know."

You can take the pro, or you can take the con. Best evidence: it depends on a variety of factors, both concerning the crime type and the place. In some circumstances, improved lighting can make a difference, in others, it has no effect, and in others still, increased lighting might actually make some kinds of crime more likely.