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Locking doors reduces break-ins

One of the easiest ways to fight against car thefts is by locking our doors. It seems that far too often we talk to police about auto thefts, and when we ask how the person got into the car, officers say it was unlocked.

We’re sure many people don’t intentionally leave their car unlocked. For most of us, it’s part of our muscle memory to hit the lock button on a key fob. For those who don’t have electronic locks, it takes an extra step. However, it’s that one or two times that a person forgets that allows their vehicle to possibly be broken into.

It’s a crime of opportunity, meaning an unlocked car is a circumstance the perpetrator is taking advantage of. 

“People are leaving their vehicles unlocked, as they are at their houses, and people will just go pull on the door handles to see,” LaGrange Police Detective John Slonaker said. “We don’t see a lot of broken glass. Generally, people are going to move on to an easier target that won’t make a lot of noise. If people would just lock their cars, we wouldn’t have near the amount of reports we have.”

According to the LPD, the number of entering auto reports, as well as auto theft reports has significantly increased in 2019 and 2020. Slonaker reported that the LPD has seen 15 vehicle thefts and 21 entering autos since the beginning of 2020.

In 2019, the city saw an increase of 49 percent in entering autos and 53 percent increase in auto thefts.

Slonaker said many times those committing the crimes see items in the car and see if it’s unlocked or not.

“Lock your doors and don’t leave anything of value inside your vehicle that is tempting,” Slonaker said. “It’s not like people are walking around looking to steal sunglasses, but if they see them out, [they may] break in and see if they can find anything else.”

Most of the items stolen in 2019 were guns, purses, wallets, sunglasses and money. It would make sense that once somebody is in the vehicle to steal one thing, they would search around see if anything else of value is laying around.

What’s even more mind-boggling when it comes to these statistics is that the LPD reported that more than 70 percent of the vehicles stolen were not only left unlocked, but the keys were still inside the vehicle.

Fortunately, Slonaker said that typically when they arrest somebody and need to do a search of their home, the officers can tie it back to multiple entering auto cases.

LaGrange isn’t the only city with this problem, we can be sure of that. This is something that all cities and towns deal with.

We have faith in the police work hard to solve many of these crimes but it becomes difficult,  especially if the car doesn’t have a GPS signal on it or some other way to track it.

We also don’t want to victim-blame, but it seems many of these crimes can be avoided by making sure the car is locked.

If you feel like you forgot to lock the door, in most cases, it only takes a touch of a button to make 100 percent sure your vehicle is secure.