Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vulnerable places

At our most recent ACUDAT meeting a couple weeks ago, we noted a series of thefts of purses from autos in the parking lots at health clubs: Gold’s Gym, Prairie Life, the Woods Park Tennis Center, Five Willows, to name a few. These are not new, but it was unusual to have several of these in short order during the dead of winter and spread around town.

We also noticed several thefts from parked cars in the downtown area, late at night while the owner was away at one of the local watering holes or a movie.

These are all examples of places where a purse left in a car is vulnerable, because it is fairly obvious that the owner of the car will be away for a while. The thief simply has to wait until the coast is clear, smash a window, and make off with the purse. Aside from the loss of any cash, the victim has to cancel credit cards, obtain a new driver’s license, watch her accounts like a hawk, and worry about identity theft.

There’s not a easy fix for this, but there are a couple things people could do to reduce the chance they will fall prey. First, make sure all your valuables are out of sight—preferably in the trunk. This isn’t a guarantee, but a purse on the floorboard or seat is a sitting duck to a thief that is window shopping.

If you are going to a place you don’t like to carry your purse into, such as your health club, the movies, or a bar, it would make sense to leave your purse at home and just take your driver’s license, if possible. Stuff it in the side pocket of your gym bag, or the pocket of your jeans and leave the purse at home.

With spring coming, trailheads, dog runs, swimming pools, softball fields, and similar outdoor sports venues will pop up as additional places where purses left in cars are in particular jeopardy. The same advice applies: don’t take it, use a fanny pack, or at least lock it in the trunk.

This is a topic I’ve touched on before, but it bears repeating. There are always going to be crimes like this that exploit vulnerabilities, and we would like to prevent as many as possible. It’s not a good feeling knowing that some cretin has you name and ID, and knows where you live.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Chief-Cretin is one of my favorite words. With the winter you've endured, how many cars were stolen while idling at various locations like convenience stores? Just another crime of opportunity.

256

Anonymous said...

Fanny packs (aka "waist bags") are a great purse substitute, because you never have to set them down. Not all fanny packs are manly-looking, and some of them can be quite stylish. Shop around, and there are some end-of-season sales on such items going on.

Crooks are like bears, scavengers, but instead of finding food with their nose, they find loot with their eyes. You don't leave your food where a bear can smell it, and you don't leave anything that looks like it might be valuable where a crook can see it. Bears are only in bear country, but crooks are almost everywhere, in widely varying concentrations.

Security isn't a chore, once you practice it long enough that it becomes habitual. For instance, when you park your car and get out of it, make sure you locked the doors and rolled all the windows up. Look inside the car - did you leave anything in plain view or poorly hidden (and that includes covering loot with a towel or jacket...yeah, that'll fool 'em /rolleyes). If you've got an aftermarket car stereo, did you take your removable faceplate with you, or were you stu...careless, lazy, and left it on the stereo?

Yeah, I know, in an ideal world, you could leave a clear garbage bag full of cash on the front seat of your open convertible, park it anywhere, come back in a week, and the bag would be untouched. When you find that ideal world, send me a postcard, because I'll move there ASAP. However, in the only world we have, there are crooks, so be smart.

Timmy Fireballs said...

If folks are going to a health club, why not just buy a 5 dollar padlock and stuff their valuables in a locker? Nah... makes too much sense... leave it in the car. It'll be alright.

Anonymous said...

To 256

Probably not many....even the thieves don't want to drive on the roads we have had this winter!! Plus they even think its to cold to be outside!!

Anonymous said...

It irritates the hell out of me that I have to lock everything up to keep it from being stolen. There is no shame in being branded a thief any longer. I'm sorry, but the person doing the crime is the one to blame in these cases not the victim. If deadly force could be used to stop a crime in progress by citizens I have a feeling the crime rate would drop like a rock. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a place where you didn't have to keep everything under lock and key 24/7 again? Of course if you depend on crime to make your living that would be horrible.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

This is kind of related: Get ready for LFA from cars at the hiker/biker trailheads. Here's a tip: Don't rack your bikes to the trailhead - just ride there and leave the car at home. It'll extend your workout, and when you get off your bike, you'll be at home, where the shower is, and you'll be at no risk of LFA. Be smart.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at how many women stuff their bags and purses into a locker at the gym and then DON'T lock it!

Anonymous said...

Gun nut. I guess it's kind of cool to think we could live in the wild west and pull our pistol out and shoot people. I for one don't ever want to kill someone for stealing my stereo, wallet, credit cards etc. When you pull that trigger, then realize you just killed a 16yr old boy over a $50.00stereo, you will have to deal with that forthe rest of your life. If this wouldn't bother you then I would suggest some counseling.

Anonymous said...

12:52,
I get so sick and tired of hearing that Wild West crap. Most of that crap sprung up from the imagination of Dime Novelists in the late 1800's and has been perpetuated by Hollywood and TV shows since. I would NOT enjoy shooting and killing anyone over a $50.00 stereo or anything else and your insinuation that I would pisses me off big time. The Chief and others on this Blog have a real knack for statistics. I wonder what the breakdown is by AGE groups in the United States for the commission of various crimes? I would be willing to bet that the sixteen and seventeen year old crowd are close to the top of the heap in several categories. Any takers?

However I wonder if a true picture of crimes by juvies can be accurate because a lot of those records are sealed. If I am wrong I will donate a Prime Rib dinner for two at Misty's to the winner of a random drawing of names of contributors to this blog. Rules for the drawing to be determined later.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

12:52,
Your comment is very insulting. To imply that I would take pleasure in shooting and killing a thief of any age pisses me off big time. The "Wild West" you refer to was a figment of the imagination of Dime store novelists of the late 1800's and has been perpetuated by Hollywood and TV screen writers ever since. I would suggest you study real History and spend less time watching the BOOB TUBE.

However on the subject of sixteen year olds and crime. I will bet a Prime Rib Dinner for two at Misty's that sixteen year olds are close to the top of the list in several crime categories like: Drug violations, car thefts, larceny, vandalism, Murder, assaults, rape and burglary.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

11:11

I've been in Lincoln recently, and I agree you've had a terrible winter on the roads.

We had a group down here that pulled into QuikTrip parking lots in a van and unloaded as many thugs as necessary to steal every running car in the parking lot simultaneously and then speed off in multiple directions. The PD went on a campaign to put fliers on running cars this winter and also they went to the mall parking lots during Christmas and put fliers on windshields where stuff was visible. I wondered if that helped the cretins ID cars where stuff was visible, but thefts seemed to drop.

256
.

Steve said...

12:52

Where do you draw the line? $100? $1,000? $10,000? $1,000,000. I've had my share of "stuff" stolen, and it makes a person feel just as violated as someone who is raped or assaulted. I wouldn't shoot to kill without giving the thief a chance to stop what they were doing and wait for the police to come and arrest them (unless I was fearful for my life). However, I would feel like I failed my duty as member of society if I let them get away with what they were doing. It's not just my property, but the untold number of others who would also be stolen from that I would be protecting. If you'd like to replace all the stolen items from all the people who are robbed or burglarized, then I'm sure many of them would be happy to let the thief go and accept your generosity.

Tom Casady said...

Gun Nut-

Got your message, I just hadn't had time to read and moderate comments until now. Busy afternoon....

ARRRRG!!!! said...

Keep your purse with you and it won't be stolen.

Anonymous said...

Chief,

While you're moderating comments, it looks like some lowlife posted some porn URLs in a couple of comments after the post you linked to in today's post. I didn't figure you'd want them there. They probably got OK'd when someone was under time pressure and didn't have time to read them.

Anonymous said...

Ok Gun Nut, Your quote is "If deadly force could be used to stop a crime in progress by citizens I have a feeling the crime rate would drop like a rock." Since this post is pretty much about about larceny from auto's, what else can I assume but that you are for people using deadly force against a minor thief. Sorry if I upset you but there are people out there that would love to shoot someone for stealing their property. I say the "wild west" for that very reason you brought up. People think of the Wild West as the way Hollywood portraits it.
And one can only come to the conclusion that with your comment that I quoted and your signature "gun nut" that you would be for this type of enforcement. I dind't mean to imply you personally need counseling unless you feel that lethal force against a minor thief is appropriate.

JIM J said...

Gun Nut: Posting with this kind of persona "Gun Nut"
Speaks for itself.
Why not use "Safe Gun Owner" or something that makes you seem like a pro.
If I were on a STD site and called myself "sowing germs" or "frothing at the crotch" I would get less of a look, if you know what I mean. As far as the way I see anon posts.
Anon posts do not get much weight, as I see them as comments of someone who is not public. Kind of like someone who phones me and asks if my refrigerator is running, and then hangs up.
Just a thought, thats all.
Going to the cat house. Happy cats are good cats!

Tom Casady said...

6:38-

Thanks much. I get these by the boatload, nowadays. I probably marked them and inadvertently clicked "publish" rather than "delete."

Anonymous said...

Jim J,
Just the fact that I own a gun is enough to offend many people. I just happen to believe that the Second Amendment is the glue that holds this country together. If that makes me a "gun nut" great.

The question on the percentage of crimes committed by teenagers has been unanswered so far. If anyone can show me statistics that the 16 year old age group is not over represented by committing various crimes I listed earlier there is a Prime Rib dinner at Misty's for two on me.

Gun Nut

Anonymous said...

Listen up, 7:15, every state should have a law similar to this one. They just need to amend 9.42 to include all hours of the day, not just night hours. By the way, down in TX, what Nebraska calls misdemeanor LFA is "auto burglary" - a felony treated pretty much like any other burglary. That's another law I'd like to see up here too. Even sticking your hand in an open window is sufficient to complete the offense. Knowing that you could be seriously injured or killed for trying to boost somebody's car stereo could tend to make the crime a little less appealing, even to a methster looking for teener money. We can't ever eliminate theft, but we can ratchet up the potential consequences.

Most people took time and worked to make the money that they use to buy property. It doesn't matter if that property owner is the poorest or richest person in the world, the value of that property represents a segment of time in their life. It could be one second or one entire lifetime, it doesn't matter. It could be a shiny penny or a cheap car stereo or their life savings, it doesn't matter. It's theft, and the rest is just a matter of degree, When someone steals that property, they take away that irreplaceable time that the property owner can probably never recover. That's not a little thing.

Anonymous said...

As a person who strongly supports the 2nd amendment I would agree with you Gun nut that teenagers would top the list of petty crimes and property crimes. I don't need a graph for that. 17 yrs of cop experience shows me that. Some graduate to adults and continue while most mature and get a real life. That is why killing someone to protect property is ludicruos. We have all made mistakes as teenagers and losing a life over it is not worth it.
I am for stiffer penalties but I think everyone knows that the penalties don't deter crime.
10:43 WOW Texas really believes in violating the right to a fair trial. Let's just put the judge,jury and executioner in the hands of the adrenaline flowing victim. They can even shoot someone fleeing and for criminal mischief. That is crazy. Criminal mishief could constitute egging and TPing a house. Wow, how would that feel to see a dark shadow outside your window and walk out there to think a kid was stealing something only to realize he was a friend of your kids soaping their car for fun and ya just put a .45 round in his back cause ya thought he was stealing your stereo. I couldn't live with myself.

Anonymous said...

@2:47

It sounds to me that you don't truely support the 2nd ammendment. I whole heartedly agree that deady force should not be used for a car stereo or the like. The rest of your comments seem to come directly from the opponents of the constitution. "Wild West" type scenarios that you say would happen (judge, jury, executioner) have proven completely FALSE. This is the same argument people used against the Conceal Carry law and it has once again proven them wrong. This arguement made the rest of your comments not hold much bearing because you are so uninformed with the latter comments.

JIM J said...

March 4, 2010 2:47 PM:
Well said. I will be a bit more harsh.
It is hard to understand the person (I refer to general speaking) who has the mind to want to put a bullet into someone for taking property. Another example is the person who says if they ever shoot someone, they will make sure they "pull them inside" as if that would make it legal. There are many minds in this world, and many of those minds think to do others harm is the best prescription. They want a low or no crime rate. They seem to think that by boasting a " Have big gun, small tool" idea, it will somehow lower the crime rate. The positive is:
Sane people know these people are in our world and, just like a bad cold or avoiding fresh dog deposit on the walk, we can avoid them. . Most who live in fear, would have it this way too, and also, their material goods will be safe. I will be watching the paper for a killing over a stolen cookie jar. Texas must be a class act. Indeed, there is no place like Nebraska.

Anonymous said...

Steve says:and it makes a person feel just as violated as someone who is raped or assaulted.

My respone:
Steve: I am assuming you have been raped?
When I see someone compare a material crime ( Theft of T.V Radio, Table, ect)
to a rape, I want to break something. I am not mad at you, I am mad at the lack of understanding we have about rape. A sex crime is something you CAN NOT compare to rape. Take all my money from the bank, and it has little impact when matched up with rape. If you are raped ( I hope it never visits), revisit the emotional side of the crime. Theft is far from the impact of being violated by a pervert.

Larry said...

Chief, regarding not bringing a purse at all, I have been reccomending carrying a "dummy" purse into the gym, etc. as many vehicles are broken into apparently where the offender has watched the victim leave the vehicle without the same.

Thanks, I have enjoyed reading your page!
Detective Egerton, Wilmington NC PD

Tom Casady said...

Larry, that's a great idea. We know that in many of our sports-themed thefts, the perp is conducting surveillance. A throw-down bag over the shoulder could avoid getting your window busted out, and yet not leave your valuables in an also-vulnerable locker!