Delaware police are urging residents to lock their car doors after witnessing an increase in the number of vehicle thefts so far this year.
Most thefts are from unlocked cars, police say.
Police also urge residents to report vehicle break-ins, even if nothing valuable was stolen.
Police reported last week that 48 theft-from-vehicle reports had been filed since Jan. 1. Police Capt. Adam Moore said that over the same period last year there were only 41 theft-from-vehicle reports.
Moore said items like loose change, GPS units, computers or CDs are the most common items taken from cars.
However, Moore said it’s likely that more thefts go unreported because victims don’t think that thefts, like loose change stolen from their cars, are serious crimes.
“The police department would encourage anyone who has been the victim of crime to contact us,” Moore said. “Victims may think an incident is minor in nature and not worth reporting, but the information they have might be useful to a larger investigation as a whole. There have been occasions where an unknown person enters someone’s vehicle, but the person doesn’t take anything and it goes unreported.”
Moore said reporting small items that were stolen can help police see a pattern in vehicle thefts.
Moore said people think vehicle thefts only occur when a thief smashes a window to grab valuables. However, Moore said the vast majority of thefts are from unlocked cars.
“[The best way to prevent theft] is to secure and lock your vehicle each time you leave it,” Moore said.
Other ways to prevent theft from vehicles is to park inside a garage on in a driveway and to remove valuables from vehicles or place them out of sight or in the trunk, he said. Leaving exterior lights on outside your home can also deter potential thieves, he said.
The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office also recommends removing garage door openers from vehicles to prevent a thief from gaining access to your home.
“I would encourage anyone who sees something suspicious in their neighborhood to give us a call,” Moore said.