By Emily LaForme, Fort Campbell CourierSeptember 12, 2019
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- The Fort Campbell Provost Marshal is cracking down on car break-ins through an initiative continuing through Christmas.
The initiative, "Lock It or Lose It," will be used to remind people on post to lock up their belongings, which will reduce opportunities for theft.
"We ran the same program last year," said Lt. John Schmidt, Fort Campbell Police. "We noticed an increase in larceny of government and private property. We hosted an educational initiative, we had pamphlets available in community centers and also worked with Campbell Crossing to put information in the newsletters they send out. We also posted on the military variable message boards urging people to lock their property up and not enable criminals."
Fort Campbell Provost Marshal will follow the same initiative plan this year because of last year's success.
"From this time last year, we are down 73 incidents in larceny of government property," Schmidt said. "We are down 61 incidents of theft of private property. If you look at it, in the grand scheme of things, there isn't really a problem of theft on Fort Campbell. People have become targets of opportunity."
Describing these thieves as "helpful neighbors," Schmidt said they go from vehicle to vehicle checking for unlocked doors, and will help themselves to whatever is inside if they are able to gain access.
"They will take whatever they want to take, the way to combat that is to make sure your vehicles are locked," Schmidt said. "This is tried and true, very rarely do we have a vehicle that has actually been broken into, and it's mostly unlocked doors."
"Lock It or Lose It" is not specifically geared toward locking up vehicles, barracks rooms, homes and personal items that need to be locked up.
"If Soldiers living in the barracks leave their doors unlocked, they can have their property taken," Schmidt said. "This program is an educational initiative that reminds everyone to lock their stuff up."
Clarksville also has been facing issues with an increase in car burglaries and the Clarksville Police Department has launched its own initiative, "Park Smart." Schmidt said commonly, groups of thieves drive in from outside communities and pick neighborhoods to target.
According to the Clarksville PD, more than 60% of vehicle thefts and burglaries in Clarksville have been to unsecured vehicles or where keys were left inside making the vehicles easily accessible to thieves.
With "Park Smart," Clarksville PD is asking residents to take three simple steps: Locking your vehicle, taking valuables with you and avoiding leaving car keys inside the vehicle.
Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that a person leaving their keys inside a vehicle could be held responsible if the car is stolen and then involved in an accident.
Schmidt said most of the time people residing on post are the ones stealing from other residents on the installation.
"We don't have a trend of people coming from off the installation to steal things," Schmidt said. "You have to get a pass, we are able to weed out criminals we don't want on the installation through that process."
The "Lock It or Lose It" initiative also pertains to front porch packages, which are very susceptible to theft.
"There are various delivery options, such as having things delivered to your place of work or a neighbor," Schmidt said. "You can opt to have packages delivered to the back door as well. We want to educate people in how to be smarter with their belongings."
Investigator Sgt. Justin Dionne, juvenile crimes team chief with Fort Campbell Police, stressed in addition to securing personal items, people should record the serial numbers of electronics, weapons and other valuables.
"If we have the serial numbers for the stolen property, our return rate of the stolen property is over 90%," Dionne said. "If we have serial numbers for guns, electronics, game systems, and so forth, if they are taken to pawn shops then the serial numbers are run in the system."
Recording serial numbers increases the chances for law enforcement to find the rightful owner of stolen property and can aid in apprehending the thief, Schmidt and Dionne said.
"Lock your doors, close your garage doors," Schmidt said. "I think people have a false sense of security living on Fort Campbell, as much as we want to think it is a gated community, there are roughly 70,000 people coming and going daily. We love to think that everyone who resides or works on the installation do not have criminal tendencies, but that is not always the case."
Schmidt and Dionne stress the importance of "if you see something, say something" and to do your best not to enable thieves by providing easy access to your property.
"If we charge a Soldier with larceny, they are taken through the proper channels with the chain of command," Schmidt said. "If it is a civilian, they would appear in the Magistrate Court, and the garrison commander could also decide to bar them from the installation."