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Thieves are having an easy time in 7th district

Thefts from autos are at a near-record pace in the 7th Police District, so the commanding officer of the district has urged vehicle owners to be more protective of their personal belongings.

From May 9 through 30, there were 47 thefts from autos reported in the 7th district, leaving the district on pace to match or break the recent high of 67 thefts for a single 28-day tracking period, according to Capt. Joseph Zaffino.

By the time the tracking period ended on June 5, 62 thefts from autos had been reported. A new tracking period began on June 6. Analysis of the available data reveals that many of the thefts likely could’ve been prevented by the victims, Zaffino said.

In 20 of the 47 cases through May 30, crooks gained entry into targeted cars by “unknown” means. That is, there was no evidence of a lock being broken or a window smashed. So, those cars most likely were left unlocked by their owners, allowing crooks easy access, Zaffino said.

Among the other 27 targeted cars, 21 had broken windows, which is an abnormally high percentage compared to prior tracking periods, according to the captain. In six cases, the thief broke a lock to enter the car.

Perhaps more telling than the rate of unlocked vehicles is the breakdown of items taken in the thefts, Zaffino said.

In 18 of the 47 cases, victims reported that their GPS units were stolen. Other victims reported stolen wallets, purses, loose change, laptop computers, sunglasses, tools and EZ Pass transmitters. Meanwhile, would-be thieves made off empty handed in only four cases, which means that crooks aren’t working at random.

No valuables should be left in an unattended car, let alone in plain view of passers-by, according to the captain. All valuables should be removed from the car before leaving it unattended. And if that’s not possible, items should be locked in the trunk or glove box and out of plain view.

Despite the recent upsurge in thefts from autos, all news isn’t bad, however. As of May 30, the 7th district had 240 cases year-to-date, for a 6 percent decline from the 2010 rate, Zaffino said.

Meanwhile, burglaries — that is, break-ins involving residences, businesses and other properties — were down by 2 percent. But in recent weeks, folks seem to have forgotten to take basic steps to secure their automobiles and the property that they carry within them. ••

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