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Sheriff warns that unlocked vehicles are leading to a spike in burglaries



In the last three months of 2011, there were 26 vehicle burglaries in the Incline Village area. Even in a big city, 26 burglaries in three months are unacceptable, but in an area such as Incline Village it is definitely a matter for concern.

Sheriff’s Office staff uses crime statistics and information shared during weekly ACES (Area Crime Evaluation System) meetings to make decisions on how to fight crime based on real time data.

What the data from Incline is showing is an alarming rate of burglaries on vehicles that have been left unlocked.

“Basically, these burglaries could have been easily prevented if the vehicles had been locked,” PIO Deputy Armando Avina said. “Criminals are using these unlocked vehicles as their own personal slot machines.”

Deputy Avina stressed that vehicle burglaries are crimes of opportunity. Criminals look for easy targets such as unlocked cars or valuables left in plain sight.

Burglaries of unlocked cars are also harder for authorities to investigate because there is typically little or no evidence left behind to provide leads, Avina said.

Avina urged residents to make sure doors are locked before leaving a vehicle, even when the vehicle is parked at your own property.

“As much as we would all like to believe that we will never be victims of a burglary,” he said. “This is something we cannot predict. But, we can take steps to help prevent it from happening. One important step, based on recent data, is to take the extra moment to lock our vehicles and residences.”

Avina said it’s also important not to leave anything of value, or any trace of valuables, visible in unattended vehicles. He advised against trying to hide purses, wallets or other valuables after parking a vehicle. If potential thieves are watching the parking lot, which is always a possibility, they’ll know that something valuable is in the vehicle and exactly where it is hidden.

Common vehicle burglary prevention tips include:

  • Lock the door when leaving the car. Still one of the most common issues with vehicle burglaries
  • Don’t leave valuables in the car. If valuables must be left in a vehicle, be sure to lock them in the trunk or glove compartment not under jackets or blankets behind the seat as that is one of the first places criminals look
  • If you need to leave valuables items in a vehicle, place them out of sight before reaching your destination
  • Leave no trace. Don’t leave any sign that there might be valuables hidden in a vehicle by leaving items such as docking stations or connector cables visible. Leave nothing in plain sight that might make the vehicle a target for thieves, not even loose coins or a CD.
  • Be sure to set the car alarm or anti-theft devices. These are still effective deterrents against criminals who are looking for the easiest target
  • Keep windows completely closed. Partially open windows may make your vehicle an easier target for thieves

Anyone who is a victim of a vehicle burglary, or observes suspicious activity, is urged to contact the appropriate authorities as soon as possible.

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office celebrated 150 years of proud service and community partnership in 2011. Sheriff Michael Haley is the 24th person elected to serve as the Sheriff of Washoe County. His office continues to be the only full service public safety agency operating within northern Nevada and is responsible for operating the consolidated detention facility, regional crime lab, Northern Nevada Counter Terrorism Center, Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, court security, service of civil process and traditional street patrols.

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