Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Area would like to warn the public about problems with vehicle-related thefts and burglaries in the Wilshire Area.
For 2014, Wilshire auto detectives are asking the public to be more vigilant in helping to prevent vehicle thefts and related burglaries. Detectives believe public awareness and efforts, coupled with ongoing Wilshire Area police strategies have the potential to significantly reduce these crimes this year by establishing an effective partnership between the Department and the community.
The vehicle thieves are primarily targeting 1990s to early 2000s Hondas and Toyotas. Based on previous incidents and reports, if the public is diligent in taking the following steps, detectives believe their efforts will reduce auto-related thefts:
Always lock and secure your vehicle, and ensure all keys are accounted for; never leave “spare” keys in your car.
Never park your car with the keys left inside (even in your own driveway). Wilshire Area Autos Coordinator Detective Carmine Sasso points to an actual case in which the victim said he left his car parked in his driveway with the keys in it, because he lived in a “nice area.”
Be aware of where you park your car. Is the area well-lighted? Is it an area that is frequented by pedestrian and vehicle traffic? Some people have actually forgotten where they parked their cars and mistakenly reported it stolen.
Do not leave motorcycles parked in one location for an extended period of time. Motorcycle thieves typically “watch” a motorcycle for a while and then simply drive by with a van, cut any locking device and easily load the motorcycle into the back of a van.
Consider installing a multifunctional vehicle alarm system.
These additional inexpensive steps may be taken to thwart auto thieves:
Utilize steering wheel and/or brake pedal locking devices that can be especially helpful in protecting those vehicles that are primarily targeted (as noted above). They’re easy to use and may be purchased at any auto parts store, and their high visibility will likely encourage a prospective thief to move on to a vehicle that is easier to steal.
Have a mechanic install an ignition “kill switch” to temporarily disable your vehicle when not in use.
Following are some additional common-sense steps the public can take to deter auto thefts:
Always lock and make sure your car is secured. This means physically checking to make certain your car is locked, since automatic key fobs do not always work. Car burglars typically check car doors.
“Lock It, Hide It, Keep It” is a Department-wide campaign to help prevent thefts from vehicles. Its premise is simple: Never leave anything in plain sight, including loose change in the center console. As a car burglar scans the interior of a car for valuables (i.e. loose change, laptop computers, shopping bags, wallets, cell phones, phone chargers, etc.), the thief will probably check the car door to see if it’s unlocked. But if nothing is visible, he will typically move on to the next car with valuables in plain sight. If that car is locked, the thief will often smash a window and quickly grab whatever valuables he can. Surprisingly, detectives have been advised by victims that they would leave their cars unlocked rather than risk having their car windows smashed. This practice is definitely not encouraged, since thieves are very likely to ransack unlocked cars for anything they can steal.
Do not store clothes and other personal items in your vehicle, making your car an extension of your home closet. Many victims of car theft have routinely left such personal property in their cars.
When using a valet service to park, consider where the valet will park your car and if the service is reputable. In a recent incident, through a video surveillance system, detectives saw a valet remove a briefcase from the trunk of a victim’s car.
When shopping, try not to make repeated trips to your parked vehicle to drop off your shopping bags and continue shopping. Car burglars will loiter in commercial parking structures to watch out for those who “secure” their recent purchases so they can execute a quick “smash and grab.”
Be aware of locations frequented by car burglars, such as commercial and residential parking structures, subterranean multi-unit residential carports and side streets off major thoroughfares.
Some specific parts and furnishings that car thieves are seeking:
Another crime recently on the rise is theft of catalytic converters, primarily from 1990s Toyota trucks, because they contain certain precious metals, especially platinum. Again, always parking in well-lighted areas at night may prevent these thefts.
Third-row seats, primarily from Chevrolet Suburban vehicles, have become a target of car burglars.
Occasionally, there have been thefts of headlight assemblies, exterior rearview mirrors and steering wheel airbags from late-model European automobiles.
Although Detective Sasso has detailed the aforementioned steps and information to help decrease auto-related crimes in LAPD’s Wilshire Area, he emphasizes how effective this information can be to help reduce these crimes on a citywide basis. Spreading the word about how to reduce these and other crimes has the potential to make a positive impact and improve the quality of life throughout the City of Los Angeles.
Questions may be directed to Wilshire Area Autos Coordinator Detective Carmine S. Sasso at (213) 473-0556. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to www.lapdonline.org, and click on "Anonymous Web Tips.”