Unlocked Car + Thief = Crime of Opportunity

The Lee County Sheriff's Office is asking for your help in putting a halt to a recent rash of car burglaries by reminding residents that these crimes are most often “crimes of opportunity” that can lead to expensive consequences. To minimize the chances of becoming a victim, we must first take away the thief’s opportunity by taking a few preventative steps:

  • Lock your vehicle. Over half of all vehicles burglarized or stolen were left unlocked. This includes both day and night and in your own home driveway or garage;
  • Do not leave valuables in plain view. This includes your wallet/purse, cell phone, laptop, GPS, shopping bags, cash, credit cards, garage door opener, keys, tools, etc.;
  • Do not leave firearms in your car:
  • Park in well-lit areas: Two things burglars don’t like – lights and witnesses;
  • Do not leave personal identifying papers in car: This includes driver’s license, Social Security card, motor vehicle registration, car title, credit card and bank statements as these items can be used to commit identity theft. While vehicle registration papers must be presented when asked for by a law enforcement officer, you do not need to store the originals in your car. Instead, keep a copy in your wallet next to your driver’s license;
  • Consider theft prevention devices such as an audible alarm;

     “Sometimes even the best crime prevention efforts are not enough for a burglar bent on stealing someone else’s property,” said Undersheriff Carmine Marceno. “If you find your vehicle has been burglarized it is important you report it immediately to your local law enforcement agency.”

            What should you do if your car has been broken in to?

  • Call the Lee County Sheriff's Office at (239) 477-1000;
  • Do not touch anything or go inside the vehicle;
  • If the suspect is still there, do not confront them. Instead, get as much information as possible such as their physical description, direction of travel, etc.

For more information about this Safety and Security tip contact the Lee County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit at (239) 258-3280. If you have any information on the recent car burglaries or any other crime call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). All callers will remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000. Tips may also be made online at www.southwestfloridacrimestoppers.com or by submitting a tip on the P3Tips mobile app.