August 1, 2007
According to statistics from 2005 and 2006, more cars are stolen in Virginia in August than any other month.
But there's good news for Charlottesville residents. More cars in the area do get stolen in the spring and summer, but last August the numbers actually dropped.
"August was actually the lowest of the bunch, with November, December being the lowest of the year. October was the highest, but nothing really jumps out at us in our statistics in the city," said Lt. Gary Pleasants with the Charlottesville Police Department.
Police also said most of the cars stolen in the area were returned in relatively okay condition. Rarely are the vehicles taken apart or completely destroyed.
Nonetheless, state and local authorities are asking drivers to be cautious and use common sense. Some car thefts are easily preventable.
"People will leave valuables in their vehicle, a thief will come by, see those valuables, go to the car to steal them and then searching the car will find keys in the car and then drive off with it," said Pleasants
So keep valuables out of sight. Police also say to park in well-lit areas, make sure the windows are up, and that the doors are locked. A good security system can help, as well.
And if you're leaving your car, even for just a few minutes, always shut it off and take the keys with you.
"People will pull into a gas station or convenience store, jump out, leave the engine running and a thief will just hop in the car as soon as they get out of it and off they go," said Pleasants.
Last year, one in five of the vehicles stolen in the Commonwealth had the keys still in them.
The Virginia State Police Help Eliminate Auto Theft (H.E.A.T.) Program is seeking information about the theft of vehicles and their parts.
Callers may remain anonymous and still be eligible for rewards of up to $25,000 for tips that lead to the arrest of auto thieves.
H.E.A.T. sponsors a toll-free hotline, 1-800-947-HEAT (4328).
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