By RICK HAYES email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — Warmer weather usually results in an increase in criminal activity, with the city of Mt. Vernon being no exception.
The Mt. Vernon Police Department had several vehicle break-ins and/or burglaries this past weekend, resulting in Chief of Police Chris Mendenall issuing a warning to motorists who may be careless in protecting one of their most prized possessions — their vehicle.
“We always see an increase in the number of vehicle break-ins when the weather warms up,” Mendenall said. “People need to be cognizant of the fact criminals are lurking about to find unlocked vehicles.”
Mendenall said it’s also important to keep valuables hidden from plain sight, because even if vehicles are locked, criminals may seize an opportunity.
“We’ve had two or three incidents where vehicles have been locked, but criminals see something inside a vehicle that appeals to them, and they go to any length to get them,” noting in those two incidents the vehicle’s windows were busted out.
“Our best advice is to keep your vehicles locked, and all of your valuables out of sight — including change or money, checkbooks, purses, laptops — just anything that thieves can take,” Mendenall said.
Suspicious activity should also be reported to police. If citizens see someone near a vehicle that may not belong there, it’s better to call police, rather than have someone’s vehicle damaged or items taken from inside.
“A lot of the people that commit these crimes are not from this area. They’re just walking by and see an opportunity,” Mendenall said. “That’s not to say we don’t have local people committing these crimes, but in most cases, it’s usually a passerby.”
According to the FBI, a motor vehicle is stolen in the United States every 43 seconds. A recent survey conducted by the National Insurance Crime Bureau and LoJack indicated that 47 percent of motorists don’t always park in a well-lit area, and 40 percent don’t hide their valuables. In fact, nearly half leave mail in their vehicle, a quarter have left a purse or wallet, and almost one-third have left bank statements, all of which can put them at risk for identity theft.