Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Lock Those Doors! or, How To Foil Car Theives in DC

One of my favorite mailing lists, the 3D Substation Mailing list, shared with me a video on the subject of "Vehicle Burglary known as Theft from Auto Crimes" from the "Crime Prevention Series." I eagerly clicked the link, bubbling with anticipation about the helpful information I would receive.

The 52 second video features Cpl. Marcino of the Collier County Sherrif's Office, and a spiffy, upbeat soundtrack. I was hoping for something a little more, er, local, but hey, crime is crime, right? My enthusiasm unabated, I watched on.

In case you don't have the 52 seconds to watch these important tips, I'm going to detail them here for you.

1. Safeguard those belongings before you get to your destination.

What does that mean, exactly? The stern Corporal didn't elaborate. Given that this is Florida, I expect this might include things like:

  • Hide your beer in the way-back, or behind the front seats

  • Secure all alligators with leather belts or tie-downs, and lock them in the trunk. This will ensure other poachers don't steal them from you.

  • Return your rifles to your concealed, seat-back gun rack.

None of these seem particularly applicable to DC, though, so perhaps they just want you to finish snorting the blow off your dashboard.

2. Lock Those Doors!

Sage advice from the earnest Corporal. But I must disagree. Quite the opposite, I have found that "door locking" is one of the best ways to ensure you get a broken window in DC. While the "Talahassee Lock" pictured at left might provide some relief from car thieves (to the extent that in DC, nobody would even bother stealing a car that looked that crappy), not so here.

Quite the opposite, most of us in DC who have been the victims of frequent car break-ins leave their doors unlocked. Since DC car-thieves are notorious for not actually stealing anything, trying to prevent them from getting into your 1992 Toyota Corolla is pretty silly. They're getting in if they feel like it, it's just a question of whether or not you buy a new window after they do.

Not that leaving your doors unlocked guarantees that you won't get a broken window, since many DC car thieves seem to be unfamiliar with the operation of the handle on a car door. But it does increase your chances.

DC advice: Don't lock those doors. Unless you keep a burmese python in your car.

But on the the final piece of advice, the real kicker:

3. Most importantly, roll those windows up.

This is because, as Cpl. Marcino says, "the average thief can take that opportunity to reach right in, and grab your belongings."

Honestly, I am struggling with this one. First of all, it assumes that anyone in DC has any "belongings" in their car. Most of us are so used to having our cars broken into, that we often don't even leave our floormats in the cars.

While rolling up your windows is good advice in terms of keeping rain, raccoons and other wildlife out, it really has no bearing on the ease with which someone will access your belongings. As we established above, in DC, access to your car is only a brick away.

I do recommend following this advice in general, since it will make your car less likely to be the temporary napping spot for a passing homeless person, but it won't help keep your valuables safe.

... and that's it.

Apparently, these important measures are all that is required to remain car-break-in-free in Collier County. Unfortunately, here in DC, they don't cut the mustard. If you want to remain break-in free, simply follow these rules:

  • Leave your car empty and unlocked.

  • Don't own a Honda Civic or any car newer than 1996.

  • Don't ever park in DC.

It's really that simple!


pixability said...


FoggyDew said...

The picture with the lock and chain reminds me of a guy down in Cuba (Gitmo) who accidently broke the key off in the ignition. Instead of getting it fixed, he just started taking the steering wheel with him instead. Made sense at the time, 'specially since it was an old bronco with no roof.

Jamie said...

@Foggy... awesome story. I remember from my old days in DC, after my POS car had been broken into four times in a year (total losses excluding damage: CB radio, a couple CDs, a jacket that I had actually found in my parking spot and just threw in the car, and some change) and I started leaving NOTHING AT ALL in it, I thought seriously about putting in a "kill switch" under the dash that would just disable the ignition.

Then I realized nobody actually wanted to steal my crappy Volvo 240 , they just wanted my spare change, so I didn't bother...