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Help drive away thieves

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office just arrested four people this weekend involved in a number of car break-ins in the eastern part of the county, taking off with everything from scrap metal to a child’s pair of sneakers. Officials pointed to one thing all of the victims had in common: They all left their vehicles unlocked.
Rowan Sheriff Kevin Auten believes one of the reasons people leave their car doors unlocked and, in some cases, their windows rolled down on their properties is because they simply trust that their vehicles will be fine. Others may be in a hurry and forget they’ve left their vehicles unsecured, he said.
Of all the places you’d like to think that you can leave your vehicle unlocked, one is certainly your own property. I remember a time when my family could leave their car doors unlocked and not squirm too much if the house was left unlocked.
Now, I lock my door instinctively, even if I forget something and must run back into the house.
Maybe it’s the crime reporter in me, but I just assume thieves will take any opportunity to steal what you have. I figure why make it easy for them? Law enforcement officials say I’m on the right track, and it all comes down to simple things residents can do to protect themselves.
• Lock the doors
Auten said the No. 1 way to deter criminals is to remember to lock the vehicle doors. The second most important thing, right behind the doors, is to:
• Close the windows
Some people may lock their doors but leave the windows rolled down. Some thieves only need only an opening of an inch or two to get into your vehicle.
Don’t leave valuables exposed
Auten said leaving valuable items in plain sight is an invitation for thievery. He said vehicle owners could place items in the trunk or take them out of the car when they go inside for the night.
Don’t leave guns, wallets, purses, laptops, electronic devices or important papers with vital information inside the car.
Garages may not be 100 percent safe
Some people leave their vehicles in their garage, which can be a safe place if the garage door is closed and/or locked.
My recommendation is to never leave the car running, even if you think it’s only going to take a second to return that Redbox DVD. I’ll admit it’s so much easier to leave it running while you’re a few feet away, but thieves need just one opportunity, so don’t make it easy for them to get into your vehicle.
Auten also recommends parking near a light at your home or when you’re out. He also suggests parking the vehicle near a dog that barks warnings. If you have a family dog or your neighbor does, angle your vehicle where it’s visible to the animal who might just alert you of potential thieves.
“Very rarely do thieves break into one car. They familiarize themselves with the neighborhood to some degree,” Auten said.
He advises neighbors to not be afraid to call police if they see suspicious activity or if they see a car that continues to drive around the block. He and Capt. John Sifford also encourage residents to look out for each other.
It’s better that residents call even if it turns out to be nothing, Sifford said.
If you see suspicious behavior in your neighborhood, call the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office at 704-216-8700, the Salisbury Police at 704-638-5333 or even 911.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.

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