Vehicle Theft Information and Prevention Tips
Did You Know In Ventura..........
- 40% of all stolen vehicles had the keys left in them
- 75% of identity theft crimes occur before the victim ever files a report
- 50% of all thefts and burglaries reported are a result of people leaving their cars unlocked
- 80% of all thefts and burglaries from vehicles are a result of people leaving their valuables in plain sight
- 50% of burglary and theft victims subsequently become victims of identity theft
Those are very alarming statistics but there is some good news. When it comes to vehicle theft, and/or theft from vehicles, there are often many steps you can take to help avoid becoming a victim. First and foremost BE AWARE and PAY ATTENTION to your surroundings!
More often than not vehicle thefts are "Crimes of Opportunity". Perpetrators often look for the "easiest" target and prey upon those who leave themselves vulnerable. The good news is there are numerous preventative measures you can take to greatly increase your odds of not becoming a statistic of vehicle theft.
Common Sense Prevention Tips
- Pay Attention and be aware of your surroundings
- Lock your car! - Approximately 40%-50% of all stolen vehicles were left unlocked.
- Always take your keys with you - Nearly 40% of all stolen vehicles had the keys in them.
- Particularly for women, make sure to keep your purse close to you and secured. For example, do not leave your purse open or unattended while grocery shopping.
- Be suspicious of persons who bump, push, or crowd you while shopping.
- Remove all valuables from your vehicle and do not leave them in plain sight.
- Set the alarm if you have one.
- Do not leave the keys in the ignition or your vehicle running, not even for a "minute". Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATMs, etc.
- Close your car windows completely when parking. Don't make it any easier for the thief to enter your vehicle.
- Never hide a second set of keys in your car. Extra keys can easily be found.
- Park in well-lighted areas.
- If your vehicle breaks down, remove it from the public street or parking lot as soon as possible.
- If you have a garage, use it rather than parking outside where your vehicle is more vulnerable.
Report all crimes to the Ventura Police Department at (805) 339-4400 during business hours or (805) 650-8010 after hours. In the event of an emergency call 9-1-1.
Going to the Movies?
Great! Have a good time! Enjoy yourself! Have some popcorn! BUT PLEASE...
- Park in an area that will be well lit when you exit the theater
- Remove all valuables from your vehicle
- Lock your vehicle
- Report any suspicious activity immediately
Unlocked Vehicle = Criminal Target
Here are some actual quotes from police reports taken from Ventura PD:
- "unknown subject entered Victim's unlocked vehicle and removed his cell phone from the passenger seat"
- "Victim last saw his wallet in his car"
- "...someone gained entry through the back sliding window of his pick up truck. Window was not locked but all doors on the vehicle were."
- "Sometime during the night someone entered her unlocked vehicle"
- "Victim said he left his vehicle parked in the driveway of his residence, unlocked, and noticed his cell phone missing"
- "He left his wallet on the front seat and forgot to lock the doors"
- "Victim believes checkbook was stolen from the unlocked vehicle...victim received six NSF check notifications"
- "...his paycheck was taken. Car was not locked"
- "Unknown suspect(s) entered Victim's unlocked vehicle while it was parked in the carport adjacent to her residence"
- "...entered an unlocked vehicle"
- "Left passenger side window down while parked on a driveway. She left her purse in the back seat. Purse was taken."
- "...called Ventura Police Department to report a theft from his unlocked vehicle"
- "...entered Victim's unlocked vehicle"
If someone wants to get into a particular vehicle badly enough, they can always break a window. But they don't usually have to with so many nice, accomodating victims around.
Stolen / Switched License Plates
Several reports of license plates being stolen from vehicles have been made to Ventura Police Department over the last couple of months. In many cases, the stolen plate is actually replaced with a plate from a different vehicle in an effort to keep the victim from noticing the crime.
Criminals will often remove the plates issued to the vehicles they use during the commission of crimes to avoid being personally identified. Replacing the issued plate with a stolen one helps alleviate suspicion that would be aroused by having no plate at all on the vehicle.
The stolen plate is generally only useful until it is noticed missing by the victim and reported. After that the risk of law enforcement spotting the plate off a list of stolen ones is too great.
Crooks may switch plates on their vehicles a number of times, possibly reinstalling the original ones when not committing crimes. Stolen plates that are no longer useful to them are used to replace the next ones they steal.
It's always a good idea to do a quick check of both your front and back plates before you get into your vehicle each day. You should also take that time to be sure the tags on your rear plate have not been stolen or tampered with.
If you find you have been the victim of this type of crime, be sure to report it to your local law enforcement agency right away. Then, if you must drive the vehicle, remove any remaining legitimate or switched plates so you won't be mistaken for a car thief and drive straight down to the DMV to get replacements.