Car thefts and thefts of contents from cars are both up dramatically in New Castle County, police say.
Thefts always rise in warmer months, said Officer Grigori Lopez-Garcia of New Castle County Police. They are not sure why the thefts have risen as much as they have.
From May through July, car thefts are up 12 percent over last year and 54 percent over the same summer period in 2018.
Theft from vehicles in the county also is up, with a 26 percent hike since last year.
“I’m not sure whether it has to do with the nice weather or kids being home from school,” said Lopez-Garcia, “but every summer we see an uptick in vehicle thefts and thefts from motor vehicles.”
The best way to project your vehicle and its contents is to lock it, he said.
As a whole, thieves are not going to extraordinary measures to steal. Suspects are not breaking windows to get into cars, he said. They are simply opening unlocked door handles.
Car prowlers, on average, may try 10 houses. If each house has two vehicles, 20 cars are checked, and two or three will be unlocked.
Many times, Lopez-Garcia said, car owners who have two vehicles will leave keys for each vehicle in both cars. That allows thieves to get into both.
Motor vehicle thefts and break-ins occur throughout the county and are not concentrated in any specific areas, Lopez-Garcia said.
Typically, would-be thieves look for vehicles in secluded and dark areas, locations without cameras, cars with visible items to steal, areas where there are few witnesses, and cars that have been sitting in an area for a while.
“They’ll walk around in neighborhoods checking door handles,” said Lopez-Garcia.
Lock your car and secure the items in it, even if you think you are only stepping away from it for a few moments, he said.
He offers these additional tips:
- Do not leave spare car keys — even a valet key — inside your vehicle.
- Don’t leave your car running.
- Do not leave valuables in your car, or secure them in a locked glove compartment.