A crime of opportunity might also be characterized as a preventable crime. This is often the situation with incidents involving vehicles, say local police departments teaming up to target auto-related crime. With a recent uptick in such crime in Southington and Cheshire, those police departments are working together to coordinate their efforts in combating the problem.
As an example, and to give the uptick some perspective, in 2012 there were eight vehicles stolen in Cheshire. In 2021, there were 42.
“There’s frustration on the part of residents. For a lot of people, your car is your biggest asset and if a car is stolen, that can certainly put a challenge into your life,” said Cheshire Chief of Police Neil Dryfe in an interview with Cheshire Herald reporter Peter Prohaska, who covered the story.
Police take this crime seriously, on behalf of the vehicle owners, of course, but also because stolen vehicles are often involved in other criminal activity.
Besides stolen cars, automobile crime includes all types of theft from cars, including catalytic converters. Snatched purses or other goods taken from inside vehicles is another element.
By collaborating, Southington and Cheshire can effect a “force-multiplier,” according to Dryfe. More territory is covered and more information is shared. His department also is seeking a state grant to help stem auto-related crime.
But here is the most valuable lesson, for every vehicle owner, to come out of the interview with Dryfe.
“These are crimes of opportunity. What you can do is reduce that opportunity, as much as possible, by taking common sense measures and being aware of your surroundings,” Dryfe said. He continues that “the vast majority of these thefts don’t involve forced entry. People are going into driveways and trying doors and if they find one that’s unlocked, then they steal what they can.”
Dryfe offers several simple, doable, no-brainer suggestions. Always keep vehicle doors locked. Don’t store valuables in cars. Don’t keep the car running when you stop at the convenience store. Even at the pumps, lock doors as a purse on the passenger seat is a target for a grab-and-run theft. Make it a routine to lock your car, lock your garage.
Opportunists are bold when it comes to easy crime. Vehicle owners can make those opportunities less frequent and harder to access.
Police are putting effort, time and money into stopping vehicle-related crime. Vehicle owners can help them conserve those resources with the click of a button.