Danville Express

Newsfront - November 2, 2007

Cops implore: Don't leave valuables in plain sight

Danville property crimes up in 2007 as possessions are left on car seats and vehicles are left running

by Jordan M. Doronila

Watch your valuables. Thieves could steal from you, even in Danville, police said.

Thefts and burglaries have gone up this year in Danville, said police Sgt. Troy Craig. The surge was largely due to residents leaving their belongings in plain view or allowing them to be accessible. Police have urged residents to take care of their property.

"It would help reduce the level of crime significantly," Craig said.

People leaving their valuables in the open, their cars running unattended, and their garage doors unlocked gives thieves easy opportunities to steal. Police are strongly encouraging residents to not leave their possessions unattended.

Petty thefts (property stolen under $400) have increased by 11 in 2007. Grand thefts (valued over $400) from unlocked cars have jumped from 27 to 43. Auto burglaries, which require some level of forced entry, increased from 66 to 105, and stolen vehicles increased from 21 to 44.

"We have been looking at our crime numbers this year and there has been an upward trend in thefts," Craig said. "They (residents) need to protect their property a little more closely."

He noted that out of the 105 auto burglaries, 71 were from purses, bags and laptops sitting in plain view. These crimes have been prevalent in other towns and cities, too.

"This is not just a Danville issue, this is a community issue throughout the Valley," Craig said. "We've really got to work together to help each other solve these problems."

"It's a continual thing that we have seen here in the Tri-Valley," said Danville Police Chief Chris Wenzel.

Burglaries and thefts have fluctuated in the past three years at the Valley Station, which monitors unincorporated areas of Alamo, Danville, Round Hill and the south area of the county. Valley Station reported 255 auto burglaries in 2005; 173 in 2006; and 244 in 2007, said Jimmy Lee, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office. It also had 74 grand thefts - with unforced entry - in 2005; 65 in 2006; and 63 in 2007.

"It's one of the biggest problems we have countywide," Lee said about items not being protected. "By far, it's some of the biggest we deal with daily."

In Blackhawk, the number of thefts has not increased, said police Lt. Alan Johnson of Blackhawk Police Services.

"It has not gone up. Ours is fairly consistent," Johnson said. "We don't see larger numbers increasing."

He noted he is still unsatisfied.

"I would like the number to go to zero," he said.

Linda Stolow, Danville resident and owner of the Small-Fry Shoppe on Railroad Avenue, said someone went through her car. Since then, she is conscious of locking her doors. She noted she has seen customers leaving the store to get their wallets from their cars. Also her friend's car was stolen from her garage.

"They are feeling safe because they are in a private parking lot and feel they are not subject to something terrible coming," Stolow said. "I think we are all a little naive."

"I think it's tough to make people change their habits," she added. "It's only when they are really impacted, they change."

Stolow said the holiday season is primetime for thieves. People are prone to carrying more items in their cars as result of the holidays. Police advise folks to store packages in the car's truck where they cannot be seen.

"As we get toward the holidays, it's going to be worse," Stolow said. "They (thieves) know cars are ripe for the picking."

"We have a (large) amount of wealth and we become a target," she added. "As long as there are haves and have nots, it's going to be that way."

Contact Jordan M. Doronila at jdoronila@DanvilleWeekly.com


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