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Question: We heard there was a recent uptick in thefts from cars and car thefts. What can Bella Vista residents do about this?

Answer: There has been a recent increase in car thefts and thefts from automobiles in the 3rd Police District. Many of these thefts are done by opportunistic thieves who are looking for quick cash or to use a vehicle in a robbery. There are some things we can do to reduce the opportunity for these crimes.

Question: What can we do?

Answer: One of the simplest things a car owner can do is to lock your car doors and take the keys. Opportunistic thieves look for those opportunities, so if you start your car to warm it up and leave the keys in it, then you are creating an opportunity for the car thief. If you jump out of your car and leave it running to go to an ATM or grab something at a store, you are giving the thieves an opportunity. To remove these opportunities, just don’t leave the keys in the car!

Question: What about the thefts from the cars? How can we stop those?

Answer: Again, this is how we can remove the situational opportunities for crimes. If a small-time drug user needs cash to buy drugs, he or she is desperate and will look for opportunities such as walking down the street looking for items that can sell for cash quickly. So, if your car has items that can be easily stolen and sold, remove them from your car. Things like leaving your car phone connected to the charger, the thief can easily steal and sell those items. Don’t leave anything of valuable visible in your car. It only takes seconds to smash a window and steal something of value. Don’t leave briefcases, purses, bags and even change in the cup holder. All of these make attractive targets for a thief.

Question: But it is so inconvenient to have to take everything out of my car each day!

Answer: Yes, it is an inconvenience, but so is having to get a window replaced in your car or having to make an insurance claim. A little planning can save you time and ultimately money as well.

Question: Is there anything else we can do to help prevent these types of crimes?

Answer: Yes, being an alert neighbor. If you see someone suspicious in your neighborhood, like someone going car-to- car, trying the car doors; call 911 immediately. Try to provide as best a description of what they person looks like and call 911. There is a link to a Suspect Identification car on the Bella Vista Neighborhood website which can aid you with that description. But don’t hesitate to call 911 to report suspicious people or activities.