Sheriff’s office advises citizens to lock their cars
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.