Crime Prevention Information

Avoid the risk of your car being broken into!

An excerpt from the Back Bay Police Beat in a recent issue of The Back Bay Sun:

"The victim reported that ... at 5:00 p.m., he had gone to a business meeting and parked his vehicle in the vicinity of ... Berkeley St. When he returned, a side window had been smashed and a MacBook, knapsack, and computer accessories had been taken."

How many times have we read stories like this, or seen the broken glass on the sidewalk that signifies another victim? Much too often.

Car break-ins are our most common type of crime in the Back Bay. In 2008, there were 411 incidents of larceny from a motor vehicle in the Back Bay. Car break-ins occur:

• At all times of the day, but 33% occur from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM and 26% occur from 8:00 PM to 12 midnight
• On all days of the week, peaking on Fridays and Saturdays (38%)
• In all months of the year, somewhat more frequently in September and October
• In "hot spots" concentrating in the upper and the lower ends of the Back Bay.

What attracts the thieves?

The items most frequently targeted during 2008 were:

• Small electronic devices - iPods, Satellite radios, GPS units/chargers, and laptops
• Other portable items of value such as golf clubs, sunglasses, handbags and briefcases

What can we do to avoid being a victim of this crime? Theft from cars is a classic example of a crime based on opportunity. They are spur-of-the-moment decisions, rather than well-planned events. Materials such as GPS devices, purses, laptops, backpacks left in plain sight can be an open invitation to a thief. 80% of car breaks are due to items left in plain view.

Here is what the Boston Police Department advises to avoid a car break-in or a car theft.

1. Don't leave valuables in plain sight ... not even the GPS cradle. The cradle tells thieves there may be a GPS hidden somewhere in the vehicle.
2. Lock your car.
3. Take your keys. One of every five vehicles stolen has the keys in it.
4. Completely close car windows when parking. Don't make it any easier for a thief to enter your vehicle.
5. Don't leave your car running unattended. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATMs, etc. And cars are being stolen when owners leave them warming up outside their homes in cold weather.
6. Don't hide a second set of keys in your car. Extra keys can easily be found if a thief takes the time to look.
7. Use security identifiers and notes, such as "back in 5 minutes", or decals for your anti-theft system.

And, not so easy for Back Bay residents, but if you can,

8. Park in well-lit areas.
9. Park in attended lots. Auto thieves do not like witnesses and prefer unattended parking lots.

All of this is common sense you might say. Well, it is. We just have to use our common sense consistently. And tell your out-of-town visitors too. Don't let them become a target.

A final note: Report all car crimes to the Boston Police Department. Accurate numbers and trending can impact on the police resources allocated in the Back Bay.

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Special thanks to Sergeant Kevin Power, Community Service Supervisor of District D-4 of the Boston Police Department for the information and advice in this report.