Police Alert | Rise in Vehicle Related Crimes

Thieves have now turned their attention to cars, according to local police officials

SouthPasadenan.com News | SPPD officials warn that there is a spike in car burglaries

Residential burglaries in South Pasadena dropped to an all-time low in April with only one reported, but with many residents inside their homes as a result of a stay-at home order, it didn’t slow down thieves from stealing cars.

The lone burglary was to a garage.

As fears of the coronavirus have helped to keep homes safe from thieves, a dozen vehicles were reported stolen. In addition, there were 13 auto burglaries and 17 thefts from unlocked cars, according to local police officials.

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Vehicle parts, including license plates and catalytic converters, were also reported stolen.

“Thefts from unlocked vehicles are a crime of opportunity and could have been prevented by simply locking the car doors,” explained Richard Lee, South Pasadena Police Department crime prevention officer in a Neighborhood Watch newsletter. “Thieves simply walk down the street, or parking lots and randomly pull on door handles. If the door opens, the thief enters and ransacks the vehicle taking anything of value.”

Lee said license plates and catalytic converters have always been popular items to steal. “License plates are often stolen so they can be placed on similar cars to commit crimes, while catalytic converters are stolen for the precious metals inside them,” explained the SPPD officer. “Other types of thefts from vehicles were gardening tools from the bed of the pick-up truck.”

Leaving an item in plain view, noted Lee, is tempting for a burglar. “Smashing a window was the most common method of entry into a locked vehicle,” he said. “If a wallet was stolen, the thief would immediately use the victim’s credit card. If you park your vehicle in a parking garage, be sure to take the garage remote. Thieves will often take the remote so they can return on a different day.”

Lee offers some tips to remember:

• Don’t leave spare keys in the car.

• Don’t keep anything in plain view.

• Always lock your car.

• Consider using anti-theft devices like steering wheel locks, LoJack or car alarms.

• Occasionally, check to make sure your license plates and registration tabs are attached to your vehicle.