BEDFORD, N.Y. – The Bedford Police Department has launched a crime prevention program to prevent larcenies from parked cars. The initiative, announced Wednesday, aims to deter thefts from cars by "target hardening" cars, or making the vehicle and the articles inside more difficult for thieves to steal, police said.
As part of the program, officers on patrol will periodically check parked cars for unlocked doors, open windows or valuables left visible inside. If officers see any of these conditions, they will leave a notice on the car windshield.
Theft from a car is a crime of opportunity, police said, so the best preventive measure is to deny thieves the chance to commit the crime.
"It is far easier to prevent a crime from occurring than to attempt to identify an offender after it has occurred," the Bedford Police Department said in a recent statement.
In September, however, Bedford police were able to identify a suspect in a series of burglaries from parked cars. Julio Cesar Alvarez-Lua of New Rochelle was charged with felony burglary and grand larceny in connection with 15 car break-ins that had occurred since March. Most of them took place on Reservoir Road in Katonah and in Arthur Butler Sanctuary on Chestnut Ridge Road.
After months of surveillance in those areas, Bedford police Sgt. Thomas Diebold said, police were able to identify the suspect's car, which they pulled over during a traffic stop.
“The only reason that this person kept on coming back was because the hunting was good,” Diebold said. “If people locked their cars and did not put their property in plain view, we wouldn’t have had nearly as many.”
The point is: If you see something, say something, police said. If anyone observes a suspicious activity, call the police immediately, as delaying the call reduces the likelihood of catching the perpetrator.
Other rules that people should follow to prevent their cars or property inside from being stolen include always keeping the car locked and the windows completely closed, even at home.
It does not matter whether a car is parked in the driveway, on the street or in a parking lot. About half of stolen vehicles are not locked, according to police, and a significant number of thefts occur in the owners' driveways.
Another essential rule is to never leave the keys in the car. About 20 percent of stolen cars are driven away with their own keys, police said.
Drivers should also safeguard their valuables by locking them in the trunk or placing them out of view. Packages, bags and electronic equipment like GPS devices and cellphones are all easy targets.