From the Harford County Sheriff’s Office:
Harford County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a large number of automobile break-ins and thefts from autos and believe the trend can be stopped, or at least slowed, with greater diligence by vehicle owners. As of September 9, 2013, deputies have responded to 492 incidents reported to the Sheriff’s Office in 2013. In July alone they responded to over 100 incidents.
Deputies say, while suspects do search out and target specific vehicles and communities, more often than not, thefts from autos are typically crimes of opportunity. Vehicle owners often leave their cars unlocked with personal items clearly visible inside the passenger compartment. Sometimes aggressive thieves will smash windows but with that comes the risk that the noise will alert someone. So they search out unlocked vehicles. While no area of the County is immune, deputies see the highest number of these incidents in more densely populated areas. For example, Bel Air, Edgewood, Aberdeen and Fallston recorded the highest numbers with a combined total of 434 incidents. The remaining areas of the County only recorded 58 incidents.
Thieves will take purses or wallets, and very quickly fraudulently misuse credit cards, hours before the victim knows they have been stolen. Additionally, suspects take phones, Ipads, laptops, GPS units and other electronics from unlocked vehicles. Deputies urge people to keep their vehicles locked and to keep valuables out of sight. Cars should always be locked even during times when the owners are home. Deputies assigned to the Community Policing Unit will tell you that most thefts from vehicles occur while cars are parked at residences and when asked, most vehicles owner will tell police they didn’t think it would happen to them. Police also note that owners will often leave their car unlocked when stopping for a quick errand or at a convenience store. It takes very little time for a suspect to reach into an unlocked car, steal an item, and be gone before the owner realizes the theft has occurred. Deputies recommend when shopping to park in well-lit areas, and remove all valuables from the car before leaving home or secure them in the trunk of the vehicle. Deputies also strongly remind owners it is illegal to leave their vehicle unattended with the engine running. Police want vehicle owners to be safe and to help reduce the likelihood of them becoming victim of a crime. Awareness and diligence goes a long way towards reducing that risk. Remember a lock isn’t a lock, unless it’s locked.