Not all vehicle break-ins can be stopped, but there are things one can do to minimize chances of being victimized or what a thief can get away with, North Augusta Public Safety Lt. Tim Thorton said.
“Lock your vehicle and tint your windows. That would deter 1 percentage of the criminal element so they won’t be able to see in the vehicle,” he said.
If they the remaining ones want to get into the vehicle bad enough, they will.
The break-in of North Augusta Public Safety Chief John Thomas’s vehicle in February is an example of such a case. The vehicle, which has tinted windows, was broken into while Thomas was at the North Augusta Greeneway.
“In the chief’s case, he locked it up and left it unattended,” Thornton said. “They wanted to get into it bad enough and broke into it.”
According to an incident report, the driver’s side window was broken out and the center console opened. The reporting officer noted that a broken screwdriver was on the ground beside the driver’s door and that it appeared the suspect tried to pry open the window and it broke.
Nothing was taken from the vehicle.
Minimizing what can be taken in the event of a break-in is also important, said Thornton.
“The perpetrators busted the windows only to find nothing in there worth taking,” he said of the chief’s case.
He recommends not leaving anything of value in the vehicle, regardless of where it is or how long it will be unattended.
“These perpetrators are so quick, it doesn’t take more than a minute to break into a car, take what they want and be gone,” he said.
When going to exercise, for example, “I would take everything of value out of my car that I didn’t want stolen,” he said. “I would leave my wallet at home, have my driver’s license in my pocket, my cell phone with me and that’s it.”
Alert citizens are helpful to public safety.
“If people see something that doesn’t look right, call up law enforcement and describe the individual and describe the vehicle they may be in, the tag number and any other things that would be helpful for law enforcement,” he said.
However, when a vehicle is left unlocked, it’s difficult for anyone to tell if it’s the owner simply going into their vehicle or a break-in in progress, he added.
While break-ins occur, people shouldn’t live in constant fear, Thornton said.
“The best thing you can do is to lock your car and reduce your chances of being victimized.”