Chief Timothy Hanlon and the Whitman Police Department would like to advise residents to properly secure their vehicles to prevent break-ins and avoid being easy targets for thieves this month.
October is National Crime Prevention Month. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each year over 770,000 vehicles are stolen and nearly 41% are never recovered.
Additionally, the NHTSA warns that parts such as radios, doors, engines, transmissions, air bags and radios, as well as items left in vehicles such as GPS units, cellphones, iPads, laptops and purses are often targets for thieves.
There are many types of devices that can be purchased to either make your vehicle more difficult to break into or steal, or easier to track and potentially recover. Among these devices are wheel locks, which can prevent someone from stealing wheels, rims or tires. Wheel lock sets include four lug nuts with a unique pattern and a matching key that is used to install or remove the lug nuts.
A list of additional anti-theft devices is available from the NHTSA and National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) here.
The NHTSA and Whitman Police remind vehicle owners to use common sense when parking and exiting your vehicle. Safety tips include:
- Take your keys. Don’t leave them in your vehicle.
- Close all windows and lock all doors.
- Never leave valuables in your vehicle. Anything stored inside your vehicle should be out of sight or in the trunk.
- Never leave credit cards/debit cards, cash or your wallet or purse inside of your vehicle overnight.
- Park in well-lit areas or preferably inside a garage, if possible. Park in visible areas where your vehicle is not hidden by foliage or larger vehicles. Install lights with motion sensors near where you park your vehicle.
- Get in the routine of double-checking that your vehicle is locked and secured each night around 9 p.m. This is known as the “9 p.m. Routine.”
If your vehicle has been stolen or broken into, follow these steps:
- Call the police to report a theft or break-in. A copy of the police report and/or a case number will be needed to provide to your insurance company.
- You may be asked to provide the license plate number, make, model and color of the car, the VIN number and any identifying characteristics.
- Contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours of when you discovered your vehicle was stolen or broken into.
- If you find your vehicle before authorities, contact the police immediately and then your insurance company.