The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said there has been an increase in car thefts and break-ins lately.
“Smash-and-grab crimes are relatively common where simply a window is smashed and they grab a duffel bag that’s on the seat or a purse that’s on the seat and simply make away with that. That takes little to no time for them to accomplish and they’ll do it in broad daylight and in a crowded parking lot,” said Lt. Jeff Kramer, public information officer for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
Some thieves are also utilizing simple tools to open car doors without smashing the windows. This method can be done silently, and in only a matter of seconds.
“It’s really easy, with very simple tools,” said Jeff Balch, owner of Knobhill Towing.
Balch demonstrated this method, and was able to unlock the vehicle in a matter of seconds. This is a method used to help clients get in their car if the keys have been accidentally locked inside.
“So, if they see something on the seat, it’s in sight, and they want it, they can get it. If they don’t see anything, they’re more likely to go to the next car,” said Balch.
Balch and Kramer say it is important that people never leave valuables in their cars, even for just a short amount of time.
“In addition to parking in areas that are well-lit, make sure that your vehicle is well-locked and you’ve removed valuables that are inside,” said Kramer.
Kramer also said it is important for people to be mindful of their garage door openers, typically left inside cars. He said these can be stolen, only to be used to enter the owner's home at a later date.
“It really is incumbent upon all of us as vehicle owners to safeguard our property inside the vehicle in terms of taking it inside, not leaving it attractive there and visible to would-be thieves. Then also, making sure we’re locking our vehicle, we’re taking our garage door opener inside. We’re certainly not leaving our keys inside, so that hopefully our vehicles are a little bit more challenging,” said Kramer.
Kramer said if a vehicle is stolen, it is important to get to a safe spot and call police immediately.
If a vehicle is broken into, Kramer said, do not disrupt the scene. He said that way, when officers arrive they can conduct a more complete investigation.