MCSO Queen Creek: Avoid being victimized, lock your car doors

‘Lock It or Lose It’ campaign aims to reduce number of vehicle burglaries

 

These graphs show car burglaries in Queen Creek by month and entry method for August-October 2017. (Special to the Independent/MCSO District 6-Queen Creek)

 

Coming into the holiday season, law enforcement deputies in the town of Queen Creek generally see a rise in the number of burglaries from vehicles.

But residents can change that by doing one simple thing: Lock their car doors.

“The bad guys are out there targeting unlocked vehicles, and almost 90 percent of the vehicles burglarized are unlocked,” Detective Kevin Gilliland of Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office District 6-Queen Creek, said during a phone interview.

Lock It or Lose It

In an effort to reduce thefts from cars MCSO Queen Creek launched this week a campaign to remind residents: If you don’t lock your car, you’re making it a target for crime.

Lock It or Lose It is a national effort many law enforcement agencies across the nation have implemented. This is the first year MCSO Queen Creek is participating, Detective Gilliland said.

Deputies have noticed a trend in vehicle burglaries by watching home surveillance videos homeowners have provided to the sheriff’s office.

“(Thieves) test the handles to see if a vehicle is unlocked. If it is, they will open the door and take change and other items,” Detective Gilliland, one of four MCSO detectives assigned to cover vehicle burglaries in Queen Creek, said.

Often, thieves will target vehicles parked in locations where the vehicle owner typically is away for an extended period, such as at gyms, movie theaters and shopping centers, he said.

Thieves also will look inside the windows of the vehicles to see if there is anything in plain sight that is of value, he said.

“We call them ‘crimes of opportunity,’” Detective Gilliland said.

 

This pie chart shows car burglaries in Queen Creek by the suspected method of entry for August-October 2017. (Special to the Independent/MCSO District 6-Queen Creek)

 

Vehicle burglaries is the No. 1 crime of opportunity in Queen Creek, according to a Lock It or Lose It pamphlet created by MCSO.

With so many distractions and hectic schedules these days, people sometimes will forget to lock their vehicle doors, Detective Gilliland said.

“People get complacent. They will get their groceries out of the car and leave their doors unlocked. They may remember later, but will be too tired to go out and lock their cars. Our goal is to remind residents about the importance of securing their vehicles.”

The perpetrators in some of these cases, Detective Gilliland said, are youths.

“I don’t have numbers to back this up, but the trend I’ve noticed is that it seems to be juvenile subjects on a weekend, especially on a holiday weekend where people have a Friday or Monday off,” he said.

He said home security cameras have been successful is helping identify the thieves and in some cases, catch them.

How to avoid being victimized

To help spread the word locally about how to prevent vehicle burglaries, the sheriff’s office created a Lock It or Lose it information pamphlet.

It will be distributed at this Saturday’s Pancake Breakfast and Touch-A-Truck event, Constance Halonen-Wilson, the town’s public information officer, said in a text.

The event will take place 9-11 a.m. Nov. 18 in the courtyard of the Queen Creek Historic Town Hall, 22350 S. Ellsworth Road.

Lock It or Lose It pamphlets also will be placed at well-visited sites around the town in the near future. They include:

  • U.S. Postal Service office in Queen Creek, 22424 S. Ellsworth Loop;
  • Queen Creek Branch Library, 21802 S. Ellsworth Road;
  • Queen Creek Municipal Services Building, 22358 S. Ellsworth Road;
  • MCSO District 6—Queen Creek substation, 20727 E. Civic Parkway; and
  • Queen Creek gyms — LA Fitness, 225 S. Power Road, and Mountainside Fitness, 21002 S. Ellsworth Loop Road.

The pamphlets also will be inserted into the packet of information deputies present to the new residents they visit as part of the department’s Welcome to Queen Creek program, Detective Gilliland said.

To help avoid becoming a victim, according to the pamphlet, MCSO Queen Creek recommends people take the following steps:

  • Park your vehicle in a garage or well-lit, heavily populated areas.
  • Always lock your doors.
  • Always roll up and secure all windows and moon- and sunroofs.
  • Don’t leave valuables in plain view.
  • Invest in a vehicle alarm and use it. Many people believe that alarms no longer make a difference; however, they do remain an effective deterrent to a burglar. Criminals are looking for the easy target.
  • Avoid leaving garage door openers in your car if possible.
  • Don’t leave debit and credit cards inside your vehicle. Always take the extra second to secure these items.
  • Trust your instincts: If something doesn’t feel right, find somewhere else to park. Pay attention to your surroundings.

Who to call

And if people see something out of place, they should call MCSO Queen Creek’s non-emergency phone number: 602-876-1011, Detective Gilliland said.

“Call us and we will get a deputy out there to investigate,” he said. “It may be nothing, but it may save 10 vehicles from being broken into.”

People who see a crime in progress are encouraged to call 9-1-1, he said.

MCSO provides professional law enforcement services to the town of Queen Creek on an annual contractual basis. The office serves as the police department for the community.

For more information about the Lock It or Lose It campaign as well as services and programs offered by MCSO District 6-Queen Creek, visit its page on the town of Queen Creek website.

News Editor Wendy Miller can be contacted at 480-982-7799 and via e-mail at qcnews@newszap.com, or follow her on Twitter @WendyNewszap123.

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