A new Riley County Police Department statistic revealed that 93.3 percent of vehicle burglaries during the last three years involved unlocked automobiles.
Officer Matthew Droge of the RCPD said that out of 753 vehicle burglaries from 2011-2013, only 50 were break-ins.
“As a community, we could change that fairly easily. We all just need to lock our doors and roll up our windows,” Droge said.
Droge indicated that before this new statistic pegged exact numbers, police had estimated that 80 percent of vehicle burglaries happened to unlocked cars.
He wasn’t sure what contributed to the 13 percent increase — whether it was Riley County’s population growth, whether more people reported burglaries in the last three years, or both.
“We don’t have a lot of violent crime, we don’t have a lot of major crime, but we do have a lot of vehicle burglaries,” he said.
Just this week, The Mercury reported four vehicle burglaries where items stolen included a laptop, an Apple iPad and an engagement ring.
All of the vehicles were unsecured, except for one in which a brick was thrown through a window.
“At least make it challenging for someone to steal from you,” Droge said.
He said that means locking doors, rolling up windows and removing valuables from the vehicle.
If valuables have to be in the car, Droge said to hide them from plain sight.
The officer said that based on his experience, most vehicle burglaries happen overnight.
He said it’s less likely that someone will take the time to break car windows because of the noise and extra time it takes to do so.
“It is highly unlikely somebody will break out your windows in Riley County,” he said.
He said burglars will pull on door handles until they find an unlocked car.
And if police see someone just looking through a car, it might not appear suspicious because officers don’t know who owns the vehicle.
Droge said police occasionally check car doors if called to an area for a vehicle burglary, or simply if they’re on patrol. Finding an unsecured vehicle, police call the owner.
“You’d rather have a cop try your door handle than someone’s who’s going to steal from you,” Droge said.
He said if Riley County residents want to reduce crime, it can be done by diminishing vehicle burglaries.
“This is something that is tangible,” he said.