Sheriff’s of­fice ad­vises ci­ti­zens to lock their cars

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JESSI STICKEL jstickel@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Jes­si­caIndyNews

The Charles County Sheriff’s Of­fice has been urg­ing peo­ple to re­move their valu­ables and lock their ve­hi­cles overnight.

Be­tween Aug. 5 and 19, there were seven re­ported ve­hi­cles that were bro­ken into, stolen and/or burned and aban­doned, ac­cord­ing to the sheriff’s of­fice and Mary­land State Fire Mar­shal’s Of­fice re­ports.

“We de­cided it was im­por­tant to re­mind peo­ple to re­move their valu­ables and lock their car doors,” said Diane Richard­son, public in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer for the sheriff’s of­fice.

They even took to Face­book and Twit­ter and cre­ated the hash­tags #lock­i­tor­lo­seit and #9PMRou­tine as a re­minder to Charles County res­i­dents.

On Aug. 5, a mo­tor­cy­cle was stolen, shot with a shot­gun, burned and aban­doned on Iron­sides Road in Nan­je­moy. The next day, a car was un­locked and the front pas­sen­ger seat was burned in the 2600 block of Hamil­ton Place in Wal­dorf.

Be­tween Aug. 3 and 6, sus­pects at­tempted to set a car on fire by light­ing a piece of pa­per on the floor­board in the 1000 block of Dorset Drive in Wal­dorf.

On Aug. 7, a car was stolen from La Plata. The sus­pects in­ten­sion­ally set the car on fire and aban­doned the ve­hi­cle at the in­ter­sec­tion of Po­plar Hill Road and Mt. Pleas­ant Road in Mal­colm.

On Aug. 15, as of­fi­cers re­sponded to a truck theft re­port in Wel­come they dis­cov­ered an­other ve­hi­cle, stolen from La Plata, that was aban­doned with the keys in the ig­ni­tion. Of­fi­cers later found the stolen truck aban­doned in a ditch in Nan­je­moy. The of­fi­cers linked the ve­hi­cles to a series of thefts from un­locked cars in La Plata and Port To­bacco.

On Aug. 19, a ve­hi­cle was stolen from the Charles County area and was found de­stroyed and burned in a wooded area be­hind the 20000 block of Three Notch Road in Char­lotte Hall in St. Mary’s County.

Richard­son said since these thefts hap­pen more of­ten dur­ing the overnight hours, they want to re­mind peo­ple to lock up their cars be­fore they go to bed.

The idea ac­tu­ally came from Sheriff Troy Berry (D) after he at­tended a con­fer­ence. He heard about an agency else­where that was put­ting these re­minders on so­cial me­dia and told the me­dia re­la­tions of­fice about it. “We thought it was an ex­cel­lent idea,” Richard­son said.

“Hope­fully peo­ple will see it and take ac­tion,” she said.

She said they have not seen an in­crease in car thefts in Charles County, “some weeks it in­creases, some weeks it de­creases, but it is al­ways con­stant.” A great way to re­duce your chances of be­ing a vic­tim of theft is re­mov­ing items and lock­ing the doors, she added.

Richard­son said some peo­ple leave their purses, wal­lets and elec­tron­ics in their ve­hi­cles. At­tempt­ing to hide them in­side your car will most likely not pre­vent thieves from break­ing in, she said.

Thieves know the lit­tle tricks and hacks of try­ing to hide valu­ables in your car, such as hid­ing them un­der a jacket, Richard­son ex­plained.

She said that they see many car thefts at gyms be­cause thieves know peo­ple are leav­ing their valu­ables such as purses and wal­lets in­side their ve­hi­cles.

In re­cent in­ci­dents, car keys were ac­tu­ally found in ve­hi­cles after they have been stolen. Richard­son said that some peo­ple leave spare keys in their ve­hi­cles, which, if un­locked, makes it easy for thieves to not only steal the be­long­ings left in the car, but to steal the car it­self.

The sheriff’s of­fice ad­vises peo­ple to take their be­long­ings with them.

If there is no other op­tion but keep­ing valu­ables in your ve­hi­cle, Richard­son said, put­ting items in the trunk is an al­ter­na­tive. How­ever, she ad­vises to not let oth­ers see what items you are put­ting in your trunk.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Of­fice Twit­ter ac­count also tweets out tips for pre­vent­ing car thefts, such as rolling up win­dows, re­mov­ing valu­ables, lock­ing car doors and turn­ing on home ex­te­rior lights.

“It’s a great habit to get into,” Richard­son said.

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