Take a bite out of car crime

By Observer editorial March 08, 2013 07:19 am

In the obscure demographic cubbyhole that is La Grande, on the edge of the vast wilderness, with its aw-shucks atmosphere and gee-whiz views, the most brutal thing you expect is winter storms.

So it was a shocker to learn of the theft of a semiautomatic firearm from a marked Oregon State Police car. The smash and grab showed just how brazen thieves can be in these desperate times.

It is also a reminder to the rest of us to be vigilant and keep a watch out for crime. A total of 160 cars were entered illegally in 2012 in Union County, according to Lt. Derick Reddington of the La Grande Police Department. Many of these break-ins into vehicles could be prevented with due diligence. 

No season is totally safe. But most of the break-ins take place between May and August when car prowlers are most active.

Not surprisingly, in laid-back La Grande, where we want to assume that neighborhoods are safe and it’s a great place to raise children, many of the vehicles broken into are not locked. Reddington urges people not only to lock their cars but also to remove their valuable items — or at least keep them out of sight.

It’s one thing to prevent crime. It’s a whole other thing to tempt criminals with easily visible goodies.

Whether people are at home in Northeast Oregon or out traveling, it’s important to do what we can to prevent vehicle break-ins.

According to Nationwide Insurance, each year in the United States, $1.26 billion in personal items and accessories are stolen from vehicles in about 1.85 million thefts. For every theft, experts estimate there are several break-ins and attempted break-ins.

So what should you do? First, keep your car visible. Park in well-lit areas if possible. Second, don’t make it easy for criminals. Keep windows and sunroofs closed and doors locked. Almost one-fourth of thefts from vehicles are from unlocked cars.

Third, activate your vehicle’s alarm, if you have one. Fourth, hide your valuables. Fifth, take your keys.

We don’t want to become jackrabbits staring into the headlights of crime, constantly on alert, worried sick. That’s no way to live. We want to enjoy a peaceful life here. If we each do our part, we can take a bite out of crime.