SAVANNAH, GA (November 19, 2015): As winter approaches, Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department urges citizens to take measures to prevent auto-related crimes.

In 2015, roughly 16% of Metro’s entering auto cases had signs of forced entry. In most of those cases valuables were left in plain view.  Signs of forced entry were evident in about 2% of Metro’s auto theft cases this year. Keys were left in vehicles or spare keys were stored in a spouse’s vehicle in 68% of Metro’s 2015 auto theft investigations.

Behaviors such as leaving vehicles running, storing spare keys in the vehicles and leaving valuables in plain view can spike auto crimes during winter months.

“Many people like to leave the car running to warm it up in winter months,” says Major Larry Branson, Commander of SCMPD’s Patrol Division. “Auto thefts are crimes of opportunity. Things like leaving the key in the car or leaving it running gives criminals that opportunity.”

SCMPD recommends the following vehicle security tips:

  • Never leave unattended vehicles running. Running vehicles are commonly stolen at ATMs, convenience stores and residential driveways.
  • Always lock vehicles and close windows completely. Criminals can enter vehicles through slightly opened windows with ease.
  • Do not leave valuable items in parked vehicles. Purses on seats, electronic devices and loose change may draw thieves. Suction cup marks left on windows by GPS and cellular phone mounts, visible power cables and chargers alert thieves to the presence of expensive electronics.
  • Park under or near street lights when parking on a street at night. Criminals usually avoid light; although, some are willing to break-in during daylight hours.
  • Install warning devices such as alarms that are sensitive to glass breaks and/or opened doors. No alarm is foolproof; but criminals do not like to be in the spotlight.
  • Never leave firearms stowed in your vehicle.

For more vehicle security techniques, contact any SCMPD Crime Prevention Officer.