The City of Dallas, Texas, has known for a long time that they have a problem with burglaries of motor vehicles (BMVs). In 2009 the city did a review of the problem and found that the perpetrators are especially fond of GPS devices and laptops, and that in the course of these crimes approximately 70 percent of the vehicles are damaged.
To get control of the situation the Dallas Police Department utilized decoy vehicles equipped with video cameras to record the crimes in real time. In 2008 there were 22,398 crimes of this nature in Dallas and by targeting this type of activity the police hope to take bite out of this scourge which totals nearly 30 percent of all the crime activity in the city.
The numbers are on the side of the police since they know that the typical perpetrator successfully burglarizes 75 to 100 vehicles before he is put away. One criminal caught up in the decoy operation was a seven-time convicted felon who was taped while spending about 15 seconds inside a vehicle stealing what appeared to be a laptop.
The police are using tracking devices as well. They hide them in attractive bait for the thieves, hoping that it will facilitate their arrest. The effort seems to be paying off, since the number of offenses in one patrol area has decreased by 600 over the same period last year. The holiday season is especially notorious as criminals do their own brand of holiday shopping.
CNN Living offered some tips on how to avoid being counted as a BMV victim:
Lock it up. This is a crime of opportunity. If you make it just a little bit more difficult, you might deter the criminal.
Clean your car. The knucklehead can’t distinguish trash from value. A discarded billfold might seem like the find of the century.
Don't leave clues behind. A holder for your GPS means there is one onboard, so stow it out of sight or take it with you as well as the article of value (iPod, cell phone etc.).
Hide your valuables before you park. As creepy as this sounds, criminals are said to lurk around parking lots watching for valuables being moved out of sight. So make it your practice to stash merchandise as you re-enter your vehicle after shopping to protect against detection at you next stop.
Roll up windows and close sunroofs. In addition to the obvious this practice allows for the sensors in your security system to be more apt to be activated during a burglary attempt.
Get an alarm. A trip to security to file a police report should not be on your radar as you prepare for the holidays, so why not follow a few precautions to ensure that it is a merry season.