It’s as simple as pushing a button or flipping a lock, but after a recent rash of vehicle break-ins, authorities are saying it’s the simple things that can keep you from becoming the next victim.
Three vehicle break-ins were reported on Wagontong Road in Wagener on Wednesday, according to the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.
“Every one of those vehicles was unlocked,” said Capt. Troy Elwell.
Three vehicle break-ins were reported on Ashwood Drive in Aiken on Wednesday, according to the Aiken Department of Public Safety. Two of those vehicles were reportedly left unlocked.
A fourth vehicle, which was also unlocked, was broken into on Gatewood Drive.
In all of the incidents, the thieves took a variety of items, from cash to purses to GPS devices to tools. Some of the vehicles were only rummaged through and weren’t missing any items.
According to Public Safety, more than a fourth of thefts from vehicles occur to unlocked cars.
“If you want to keep your stuff, you have to help law enforcement help you,” Elwell said. “Lock your doors, lock your doors, lock your doors. If (thieves) have the opportunity between breaking a window and opening your door, they’re going to open the door every time. It doesn’t draw attention to them.”
In addition to locking up, Elwell encouraged drivers to keep their valuables out of sight, which means taking those items inside your home with you, or placing them in the trunk if that isn’t an option. Also, try to park in well-lit areas.
“Sometimes, it’s the simple things that mean the most,” he said, noting that some people will be victims no matter what precautions they take.
If your vehicle has been broken into, Elwell said it is a crime scene that should be disturbed as little as possible.
“We expect people to survey the damage, but that should be done to a minimum,” he said.
If your purse or wallet has been stolen, including financial cards, Elwell said it’s best to call and get the cards canceled to avoid financial crime, then contact law enforcement.
It’s also important to record serial numbers for valuables, including electronic devices and firearms, in case they are stolen.
“If you don’t have serial numbers, the chance of having your items returned to you is next to zero,” Elwell said. “We may be able to recover your item, but there’s no way to say it’s yours.”
If you don’t want to record the number on an item, take a picture of the number, or etch a unique mark or your initials into it so you can identify the item later if it’s recovered, he said.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime beat for the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Clemson University and hails from Williston.