Police (again) urge residents to lock unoccupied vehicles

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - 8:40am

The Wake Forest Police Department (WFPD) constantly implores residents to help reduce motor vehicle break-ins by locking their car doors. After all, nearly 100% of the reported car break-ins in Wake Forest involve unlocked vehicles.

Now, the WFPD’s pleas are taking on an even greater sense of urgency after a recent rash of break-ins involving unlocked vehicles. Once again, thieves engaged in what is known as “car-hopping.” Car-hopping occurs when criminals roam neighborhoods at night, pulling on car door handles, hoping to find an open vehicle.

Police officials say it’s a numbers game. For every 10 cars a criminal checks, they expect to find at least a couple open, so there is no need to physically break a window or door lock to get in.

Again, nearly all of the reported car break-ins in Wake Forest involve unlocked vehicles. So, there is little to no evidence to support the notion that leaving your doors unlocked is a good idea because a thief might cause more damage to your locked vehicle if they decide to break in.

As a result, the best way to avoid becoming a victim is by simply locking your unoccupied vehicles at all times, removing your valuable items and any extra set of keys from the vehicle, and double-checking to make sure your car is locked before going to bed at night. If an item can’t be removed, then it’s best to make sure it is out of sight to potential crooks looking for an easy target.

Another thing you can do is call the Wake Forest Police Department if you think something looks suspicious. Sharing your concerns about suspicious activity on social media is not the same as reporting it to the Police Department. So call the police first, then post away on social media.

As a Wake Forest resident, you are the Police Department’s most valuable resource. If you call about something that seems suspicious, and it turns out to be nothing, then that’s ok. But it could turn out to be something after all. So when in doubt, make the call.

Here are a few additional tips suggested by the WFPD:

  • Park in open, well-lighted, and populated areas near your destination. Avoid parking near trucks, vans, dumpsters, and other objects that obstruct visibility and provide hiding places.

  • Avoid parking near strangers loitering or sitting in vehicles.

  • Park in lots or garages where you don’t have to leave your keys.

  • If you have a garage – use it! Then lock the vehicle and the garage.

  • If possible, don’t leave your vehicle on the street, in an alley, or on your driveway. If you have to park on a street, avoid dark or isolated areas.

  • Turn off your engine, roll up all windows, lock all doors, and take your keys with you even if you are making a quick stop at a store or gas station, or even in your driveway.

  • Don’t leave spare keys inside your vehicle. An experienced thief knows all the hiding places.

  • Don’t leave cell phones, wallets, purses or anything of value in vehicles.

  • Don’t leave your vehicle in an unattended public lot for an extended period of time.

  • Install an alarm system that will sound when someone attempts to break in, move, tilt, or start your vehicle. Always activate the system when leaving the vehicle.

  • Check your vehicle if you hear the alarm sound, but don’t try to stop a person attempting to break in. Get a good description of the person and call the police.

  • If something looks suspicious, then it probably is. Call the police.

Making sure Wake Forest is a safe place to live and work requires the cooperation of the Police Department and the town’s residents. To report suspicious behavior or activity, call 9-1-1 or 919-556-9111.