December 14, 2005
The Charlottesville Police Department is joining forces with AAA this holiday season trying to get the word out about car thefts. The organizations are warning people to wary of car thieves and offering advice on how to protect your valuables this time of year.
Car thefts are up in the city as well as items being taken from cars. In fact, it's up an alarming 48% in the city of Charlottesville this year.
AAA and Charlottesville police are teaming up to raise awareness and ask people to use a little more common sense to prevent more thefts.
"Charlottesville is Charlottesville and I say it's a little mountain town," said driver Debra McAndrews.
Some Charlottesville drivers feel invincible and believe crime doesn't happen here but police say that's not the case.
"We are safe here with respect to other parts of the country, both with violent and property crime, but none-the-less we're a city [and] a lot of people pass through this community every day--not all of them with the best intentions," said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.
After a recent rash of car thefts and items stolen from cars, police along with AAA are urging motorists to protect themselves from an often preventable crime.
"Keep your vehicle locked. Keep it secure. Take your keys with you," said Longo.
"It's just my habit now to just throw the keys on the seat next to me when I run down to the post office or wherever," said McAndrews.
Always take measures to ward off potential thieves.
"I've just gotten into the habit of locking it. Nobody has ever taken it but just to make sure I keep it locked," said driver Odell Winston.
Avoid parking at the end street where thieves can easily tow your car. Instead park between two vehicles and turn your wheels into the curb.
Park your car in well lit areas. Don't leave valuables in plain view. Do not hide a spare key anywhere on your car. Use an alarm if possible and don't leave your registration or other personal information in the glove compartment where thieves may find it. Instead, keep personal information with you at all times.
"This is a brand new car today, so I guess I'll have to make some quick changes," admitted Mc Andrews.
Also, despite the cold, never leave your car running with no one inside.
AAA is offering a reward of $1000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a person who has stolen a car from a AAA member.
Witness should call 1-800-AAA-HELP.