Hiding in plain sight
June 5, 2013
HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Satellite navigation devices are the most popular items stolen from vehicles belonging to U.S. Army in Europe personnel, but laptops, tablet computers, phones, backpacks and military clothing are also regularly stolen from cars and vans.
"The main problem is that Soldiers and civilians leave property in plain view inside their vehicles," said Joseph Day, law enforcement chief at the USAREUR Office of the Provost Marshal.
Unlocked vehicles are another invitation to thieves.
"It is not only important to lock your vehicle when it is unattended, but also the law in many countries in Europe," Day added.
A locked vehicle alone is no deterrent, he warned. If thieves see something valuable in plain sight inside, they will smash a window or cut open a canvas top to grab it.
"It is best to never leave anything valuable in a car, even if you leave it on post," Day added. "Crooks know all the hiding places for electronic devices."
If you must leave something in a car, the trunk is the safest place, he continued.
Day offered more advice to help people who will travel by car in Europe this vacation season, to reduce their chances of becoming victims of crime:
Never leave valuable documents such as passports or ID cards in a vehicle -- those should always stay in your possession.
Maps and guidebooks on the dashboard show that you're a tourist -- keep them in the glove box.
Stay away from cars driving erratically and never pick up hitchhikers.
Be wary if someone indicates there is something wrong on the driver's side of the vehicle. While you are distracted, a thief opens the other door or reaches through the window and steals the purse on the passenger seat.
Always lock your car while driving, while getting gas, at rest stops, and when it's parked.
When spending the night away from home, take valuables into your lodging with you.
Report thefts to military and local police, regardless of the country you are in. You may need a police report to file an insurance report as well.
Contact your local Provost Marshal Office for more security tips.