Auto theft has been an issue in Springfield for many years, but the spike in just the past year has been alarming. Nearly 1,000 vehicles were reported stolen in the city just in the first half of 2017. What is so frustrating for many victims of this type of crime is how preventable it is.
Many times, vehicle thefts are crimes of opportunity. Criminals will go after what can be taken with little effort, so if they notice a car left running unattended at a convenience store, or if they spot an iPad in the back seat of an unlocked car in a parking lot, they are probably going to take it in a matter of a few seconds.
In the first six months of 2017, 83 vehicles were reported stolen after their owners admitted to leaving them running while unattended. This does not even include the vehicle thefts that occurred due to keys merely being accessible. The Springfield Police Department tends to see an uptick in vehicle thefts in the winter and summer months due to drivers choosing to warm up or cool down their vehicles before getting comfortable in the driver’s seat and heading to their destination. While that may be tempting, drivers are discouraged from doing this. While sometimes cost-prohibitive, one option is to use a remote start system where a key is required inside the ignition to move the vehicle from its position. If drivers still choose to leave their vehicle running to warm up or cool down, at the very least they need to keep an eye on the vehicle to deter a thief or to obtain suspect information and call 911 immediately if it is stolen.
The most basic piece of advice that could save many drivers from a lot of unnecessary hassle is to remove keys from the vehicle and always lock the doors.
No one expects it to happen to them until it does. It often takes experiencing a bad situation such as this to become more aware of crime and the importance of prevention. Remember: lock it to stop it!