Don't fall victim to the smash and grab -


Don't fall victim to the smash and grab

A survey by the National Insurance Crime Bureau found that 40 percent of the drivers they surveyed do not hide the valuables they leave in their cars. It's no wonder that "smash and grab" auto burglaries are on the rise all over the country. Here's what you need to know to avoid being the next victim.

Smash and grab auto burglaries are when thieves "smash" out car windows and "grab" valuables left in plain sight.

Lt. Alan Hamilton is a commanding officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. He says there were around 28,000 smash and grab incidents reported last year in Los Angeles alone.

"It's very rare for a smash and grab auto burglary to take more than ten seconds. Usually, we're talking about single-digit seconds, where they're gonna be in that car, through that window, get your item and be on their way," says Hamilton.

"Laptops, phones... they're typically sold on the street very quickly when they're stolen. We've seen turn-arounds as quick as one hour, two hours," says Hamilton.

Lt. Hamilton asked detective Kevin Royce to demonstrate the fundamentals of just how little time it takes, so the LAPD staged a smash and grab break-in for America Now.

"What you're going to see a lot of the times is people casing vehicles and they're going to be looking at those cars to identify items of value that they can steal quickly," says Royce.

Their smashing tool of choice … a common car part.

"What you do is you take a spark plug and you crack the porcelain head on the spark plug and it chips into small pieces The porcelain is denser than the safety glass," says Royce.

But there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the bad guys both your car and valuables.

"The most important thing is not leaving items exposed. If they're secured, they're in your trunk, they're in a glove box - there's no way of that person knowing what's in that car. And they're not going to take the chance. Every single time they break that window and break in that car, they're risking their freedom," says Royce.

GPS devices are one of the most frequently stolen items in smash and grab burglaries.

"The bad part about GPS devices is they have to be seen by the driver. So that leaves them exposed. And it's a very small, concealable item. Very easy to turn over. So what we recommend is that the whole device get placed away," says Hamilton.

Lt. Hamilton says the trunk of your car is the safest place to lock and hide your valuables.

"I can tell you that the number of people who have their trunks broken into and have their items taken is near zero," says Hamilton.

The bottom line is to make sure your car doesn't become a soft target.

"These suspects are out there looking into these vehicles looking for the weak link. If you're the one that has foolishly left your items exposed, your car is going to be one that gets victimized," says Hamilton.

So remember, the next time you park your car.

  • Make sure not to leave anything of value exposed
  • Either take your valuables with you
  • Or lock these items in your trunk or glove box
  • And be sure to park in a well-lit, secure area whenever possible

Because the last thing you want is to make it easy for an opportunistic thief to help himself to your personal property.

Copyright 2014 America Now. All rights reserved.

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