Stay Alert to Help Prevent Car Thefts, Robberies

Driving is an activity many Las Vegans engage in several times a day. We all know that it’s important to drive carefully and follow the rules of the road — but getting into an accident isn’t the only risk you need to be aware of. You should also think about precautions you can take against car theft and robbery.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s 2012 Hot Spots report on auto theft, there were 7,981 car thefts in the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise area in 2012 alone.

Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to help prevent a thief from making off with your car. Chrissie Coon, public information officer at the North Las Vegas Police Department, says it’s important to always pay attention to your surroundings. Forgetting simple tasks, like locking your car doors, can leave you vulnerable to a thief.

“For example, some people get out of the car and leave it running when they drop off their kids,” Coon says.

Denise Stride, crime prevention specialist at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, says that paying attention to your surroundings is key to safety.

“Lock the doors of areas that you leave unattended for any length of time, even if it’s your car and you’ll be right back,” says Stride.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department offers these tips to help prevent car theft:

  • Always lock your car doors.
  • Always roll up your car windows before leaving your vehicle.
  • Never leave your keys in the car.
  • Consider an anti-theft device. The LVMPD says it may make your car less attractive to thieves.
  • Don’t leave your car in an unattended parking lot; park in a busy place instead, if possible.

Don’t Let Danger Follow You Home

Thieves don’t only target unattended cars; sometimes, they’re after what’s in your wallet or purse. For example, Coon says that last year, residents in the North Las Vegas area experienced a rash of incidents in which robbers followed elderly people home from casinos.

To help avoid this type of scenario, Stride offers the following tips:

  • Don’t go home. If you notice that a car stays behind yours as you follow your route home — especially if your route involves lots of turns or even U-turns — you may not want to go home.
  • Go to a busy place instead. Drive to a public place, such as a gas station or store, and stay in your vehicle while you call police.
  • Call 911 if you’re in immediate danger, and 311 if you don’t think your danger is immediate. “I used to recommend going to a police station,” says Stride. “But due to budget cuts, all of them close by 5 p.m., and some are not open to the public at all.”

Familiarize Yourself with Personal Safety Resources

In the effort to prevent crime, you don’t have to go it alone, Stride says. Local resources offer information and training, as well as access to experts. To get you started, she offers this list:

  • Learn about local reported crime at the CrimeMapping webpage.
  • The National Crime Prevention Council is a Washington, D.C.,-based educational nonprofit that promotes crime prevention through publications, technical assistance, and training.
  • AlertID is a Nevada-based company that offers a free, neighborhood-focused, secure social network—in Vegas and other metropolitan areas—for sharing public safety alerts.
  • The LVMPD’s website also offers more resources in its Crime Prevention section.

Lastly, in addition to taking the above precautions, it’s important to trust yourself. When someone or something makes you feel uneasy, pay attention to what your instincts are telling you.

“Teach yourself to look around,” says Stride. “If something doesn’t look right or feel right, then back out of the situation.”

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