Lock your vehicle, it's the law
February 16, 2010
By Molly Hayden
GRAFENWOEHR, GERMANY - On a chilly night in January while making a routine round in the Netzaberg Housing Area, the Eschenbach Polizei found 21 vehicles left unlocked and unattended, approximately every fifth car, according to a report submitted to the provost marshal.
"We see this all the time," said Pfc. David Kelley, 527th Military Police Company, adding that Netzaberg was not alone. "People have a false sense of security on government property."
This act not only brought the threat of theft to unattended items left in the car, but fines for the car owner.
Leaving a vehicle unsecured is a violation of host nation law, USAREUR Regulation AER 190-1 and garrison policy; a violation can result in a 15 euro fine by the host nation police and a notice of violation (DD 1408), which is issued to the vehicle's owner or operator by the military police and forwarded for command action.
The military police fully support the use of citations given by the Polizei against violators of this law, according to Master Sgt. Barry Beilhart, provost sergeant, Directorate of Emergency Services.
"We work closely with all of the surrounding Polizei stations," said Beilhart. "(We) have a great working relationship and continue to develop our partnership."
Unsecured, unattended vehicles in the Grafenwoehr area has lead to thousands of dollars of personal and government property being stolen every month.
If a vehicle is observed by the military police or German Polizei to have been left unsecure and items are stolen, the report will reflect that it was unsecure, which could cause problems for individuals wishing to file claims with their insurance company, according to Beilhart.
Additionally, many infractions are seen on post daily from drivers talking on cell phones without a hands-free device, passengers not wearing seat belts and cars driven with inoperable equipment including headlights and turn signals.
Beilhart stressed safety in all measures, from driving on and off post to drivers securing their vehicles when parked. He also suggested removing expensive items from the car or placing them in hidden areas of the car or trunk if necessary.
"If no items are visible in the car, chances are that the criminals will move on to the Soldier or family member that decided to leave their stuff in the open," said Beilhart. "Make yourself a hard target."