‘Tis the season to be extra cautious to avoid becoming a victim.
Today, Longview police responded to two stolen vehicle reports within an hour after the owners started their vehicles to warm them up and went back inside their homes. Officers have responded to several other stolen vehicle incidents in recent weeks when temperatures dipped below freezing.
In a third incident this morning during the same time frame, a vehicle was stolen while a newspaper delivery man left it unattended for a short time.
“I understand it takes several minutes to warm up a car when it’s cold outside and you’d rather be inside where it’s toasty, but you can’t leave a vehicle unattended for even a minute when you have people lurking around waiting for an opportunity to steal,” said Longview Police Department community service officer Cindy Lopez Werth.
“The victim I talked to this morning left her van running in front of her home for only a few minutes and then it was gone,” Werth said. “Luckily, officers were able to find her van in an alley in the neighborhood less than two hours after it was stolen, but not all victims get their vehicles back that soon, or ever.”
Werth said it’s a good time to remind people to be very careful. She offered the following crime prevention tips:
1. Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running. Also, don not leave a set of keys inside your vehicle whether it is locked or not.
2. Do not leave valuable items in your vehicle, especially cash, credit cards, checkbooks, purses, wallets and backpacks. Lock your vehicle. If you have an alarm, use it.
3. When shopping for Christmas gifts, do not put purchases in the vehicle and go back inside the store to do more shopping. Thieves are watching and waiting for an opportunity to break into a vehicle to get a load of presents for free.
4. After you’ve purchased items, make a note of the brand, model and serial numbers in case they are stolen. This is helpful to police and insurance companies.
5. If you’re having packages delivered, make sure you will be home when they are expected to arrive or make arrangements for them to be delivered to an alternative location where someone will be there to receive them. Or ask a neighbor you trust to get the packages as soon as they are delivered.
6. Do not display too many Christmas presents under your tree if it’s visible from the street. Why tempt a would be thief?
7. Even if you’re home, keep your doors locked.
8. Keep your garage door closed and locked.
9. After Christmas, break down boxes for TVs, stereos, video games and other such items and turn the boxes inside out before putting them in the recycling dumpsters so you are not “advertising” what you have in your home.
10. If you witness a crime in progress, call 911 immediately and provide a good suspect description to the dispatcher such as gender, approximate age, height and weight, color and style of hair, clothing, and in what direction did the person leave.
Non-emergency incidents can be reported by calling dispatch at 577-3098. Certain reports can be filed online by going to www.mylongview.com
and selecting File a Police Report. Go to the bottom of that page to click on the link to start the report.