SAVANNAH, GA (Aug. 8, 2014): Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police and the city’s Mobility and Parking Services Department have joined hands to help visitors to the downtown area keep their cars and property safe.

Operation “Lock Your Car” began this week when Parking Services and Metro Police began affixing the first of 5,000 stickers to parking meters and parking vending machines reminding drivers and their occupants to take precautions.

The black and white stickers with a red band and gold SCMPD badge simply remind visitors, “Hide Your Things, Lock Your Car, Take Your Keys … a friendly reminder from your police department and Mobility and Parking Services.” It is an extension of police and city efforts to address crime in a proactive manner.

“Savannah has the same issues all other cities have, but many of our visitors and even our residents forget they are in a city when they come downtown to enjoy this beautiful area,” said Police Chief Julie Tolbert. “Our goal is to remind them that there are those who may take advantage of the distraction the city provides to take advantage of them.

“This combined effort of the police and parking services department and the city manager’s office is a splendid way to tastefully remind all of simple steps they can take to help police protect them.”

Veleeta McDonald, Mobility and Parking Services director, said the warnings perform a service to the thousands of people who visit the downtown area daily. “We want everyone to enjoy their visit to the downtown area free of complications,” she said. “While very few vehicles have incurred problems, it can be a terribly frustrating situation we want to help all our parking customers avoid.”

While thefts from vehicles are down from last year, the Downtown Precinct which includes the entertainment district has shown an increase and police and parking services are working together to address it.

“Almost every case involves either cars that were unlocked or had items of value left in plain sight,” said Downtown Precinct Capt. Ben Herron. “In many cases, keys were left with the car as well, making it an easy target for thieves. The prevention is simple and it is spelled out on the stickers.”

Police point out that thieves ranging from bored teens to seasoned professionals can move quickly when vehicles are left unlocked. And vehicles rarely are broken into when thieves cannot see items of value they can grab quickly and move away.

Savannah’s Parking Services furnished the stickers, designed by Metro Sgt. Eddie Grant, and began installing them this week. The process involves thoroughly cleaning the meters first to assure the best adhesion of the warnings. Metro officers are joining in the installation process.