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Ten tips from Kent Police to prevent vehicle thefts, prowls

1 - Secure your vehicle every time you park. This means doors locked, windows rolled up, alarm activated, and the Club installed if you have one. Suspects walk through parking lots and just try to open car doors. It’s amazing how successful they are.

2 - Best practice is to remove all valuables from your car every time you park. This includes cell phones, IPODS, GPS units and the suction cups that come with them, shopping bags, etc. Never leave purses or briefcases in your car. These are invitations to would-be car prowlers. Avoid leaving your mail in the car. Often times, mail is stolen in vehicle prowls and used for identity theft purposes.

3 - Consider taking out your garage door opener from your car especially if you park in your driveway. Suspects have been breaking into cars and using garage door openers to gain access to the house. If you have a lock on the door between the garage and your house, make sure you lock it.

4 - Never leave your car running in your driveway. This time of year especially, cars are stolen while warming up in the driveway in the morning hours. Thieves know this practice and keep an eye out for it.

5 - Criminals are opportunistic and in many cases, lazy. Think about crime prevention in layers. Every layer you add to your car, yourself, your house, adds that much more protection. For example, using door locks is one layer. Using your alarm system or a Club is another layer. The more layers you use, the less likely you will be a victim.

6 - The Club, an anti-auto theft device, works as a big deterrent to vehicle thefts. Most of the time, if a vehicle thief sees a car with a Club attached to the steering wheel, they will move on to another car.

7 - The entire region experiences vehicle thefts of Honda Civics and Accords, especially 1990s models. If you have one of these cars, get a Club today. They can be purchased at the Kent Police department for $15 for cars and $20 for large SUVs and trucks.

8 - Are vehicle prowls and thefts more common at apartment complexes and shopping centers? Yes. The reason is, let’s use this analogy. Say you are going shopping for gifts. Where do you do your shopping? Probably at the shopping center with the most stores you want to shop from. Car thieves and prowlers use the same thought process. They choose to victimize areas where there are a lot of cars to choose from.

9 - Utilize basic crime prevention techniques every day. Keep your eyes out for suspicious behavior, activity, and people. If it feels “funny” or “not right,” it most likely isn’t. Trust your instincts. Call 911 to report anything suspicious.

10 - To report any suspicious activity, or if you are or have been a victim of a vehicle crime, call 911. If you don’t report it, Kent Police doesn’t know it happened. Your crime could be a piece of a puzzle officers need to identify the suspects. You can also report most property crimes not in progress via our online reporting system at www.ci.kent.wa.us/police and click on “File an online police report.”

• Tips provided by the Kent Police community education unit. For crime prevention questions in the West Hill and Valley, call Sara Wood at 253-856-5851; for the East Hill, call Stacy Judd at 253-856-5883.

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