Property crime in the Central District is of great concern for MPD. We know the number of property crimes would decrease if "targets of opportunity" were reduced. A walk through your neighborhood would illustrate the point. Walk your block and look at the cars that are parked in parking lots or on the street. Glance inside. Anything of value? In the amount of time it has taken to read this article a thief could have broken the window (usually finding a nearby landscaping rock), grabbed the property and be well on their way out of the area. Now go take a peek at your car. Would a thief see it as an opportunity or not worth their effort?
What are thief's looking for?
• Anything of value. Laptops, GPS units (if you leave the dash mount in sight it is a clear indicator), cell phones, cameras, money.
• A closed but full pack back in plain sight can be worth the risk. Some victims report that their window was broken and the thief took their back pack, which contained their dirty laundry. The clothing and back pack may be found a block away but the property damage is done.
Who is doing these crimes?
• Theft from autos is considered a basic and sophomoric crime. Perpetrators are in a high risk/low gain activity.
• Their crime is loud and the outcome is questionable (dirty laundry or a Mac book).
• The crime takes little planning or imagination.
• Most of the people MPD arrests for these crimes who talk to us report that they are doing this to support their drug habit. They have exhausted all legitimate means of financing their addiction and now turn to crime.
What can you do?
• Look at your vehicle as a thief would. Take every opportunity out of the car and keep it locked up in your home.
• Call police when you see people looking into cars (remember how you looked when you were walking your street to see if there were target rich cars?). This is suspicious behavior that requires police attention.
• As the weather turns warm again and you sleep with windows open you will hear more. Call if you hear breaking windows, people in the parking lot that don't belong.
What are the Police doing about this? We address this on many different levels.
• Education: We tell be to reduce the chances of being a victim by removing property from their cars.
• When we find trends we share this information with officers who then are asked to use their creative minds to attempt to catch the suspects. Officers have been successful in arresting these suspects by "using traffic". They discover thieves as they are driving away from the crime. (A bag full of GPS units is hard to explain away), other officers walk the beat, use bikes, use unmarked cars.
• When suspects are caught we investigate as far as we can. We interview the suspect in an attempt to discover what other locations they have hit. We rarely get property back for the victims but we do try to charge them for all of the crimes.
• We use informants to identify suspects.