Car Thieves' Top 10 Targets

Keep your stuff out of plain sight

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC San Diego

    A list of the top 10 things thieves steal from your car was released by local law enforcement agencies.

    The top 10 items include GPS systems, cameras, laptop computers, iPods/MP3 players, purses, wallets, cell phones, hand tools, sunglasses, and CDs, according to the list released by the Regional Auto Theft Task Force (RATT).

    The item thieves want  most are GPS systems, said Matthew Weathersby, a community liaison who has been working with local law enforcement to help educate people about auto theft prevention.

    Thieves like the portable GPS systems, and even though you take it out the window, thieves can still see the suction cups or wires to the unit, Weathersby said. Thieves figure you just placed the unit out of sight.

    "Cars are getting harder to steal, so they are breaking in to get your stuff," Weathersby said.

    "A lot of cars, you can't just hot wire, you need a key with the right chip," Weathersby said. Cars now have Lo-Jack and OnStar, which help police track down the vehicles quickly.

    In 2009, the top cars stolen from San Diegans were the 1999 - 2000 Honda Civics and Accords, which are easier to steal than newer models, Weathersby said. He added the parts on these cars are interchangeable and thieves may steal your car simply for the parts.

    Police advise people to either keep your valuables out of sight, or take them with you when you park your car.

    "Ideally you wouldn't leave any of those items in your car," Weathersby said. "If the stuff is out of sight, it becomes a fishing expedition. He isn't sure if he will hit the jackpot with your car."

    It is easier for criminals to move on to the next car, whose owner has all of their valuables out in plain sight, Weathersby said.

    Police offer the following tips to keep your car safe; Etch your VIN number on all the windows of your car. If thieves steal your car, the person they are selling it to will notice something is up if the VIN numbers on the car and the windows don't match. If your car is taken to a chop shop, thieves will get less from the car since they can't sell the windows, Weathersby said. This will usually send them onto the next car, whose window are not etched.

    If you are parking in a public place remember these parking lot security tips provided by Weathersby:

    • Park only in a well-lit, highly visible location
    • Don't get out of the car if you see suspicious people
    • Park in lots in high traffic areas, when possible
    • Remove all interior valuables from plain view
    • Lock your doors and roll up all windows
    • Use a highly visible steering wheel or brake pedal locking device
    • Use a car alarm and alarm decals         
    • Upon return, scan the area around your car as you approach  

    Weathersby says vehicle theft is down across the county, but vehicle break-ins are definitely up.