Greenville Police launch Vehicle Break-in Reduction Campaign

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Stay at Home orders and coronavirus restrictions have forced many to spend a lot of time indoors. But in turn, if you don't have a garage, this leaves one thing outdoors and unattended—and that's your vehicle.

The Greenville Police Department launched the Vehicle Break-in Reduction Campaign to remind residents how to form better habits to prevent them from becoming a victim.

Greenville resident Valerie Lewis was once a victim of the crime.

Lewis said, “I was at home. I left my purse in the car. [I] walked in for two minutes. I come back out, and my purse is gone."

Lewis had to learn a lesson the hard way when someone stole her belongings—just that quick. She has a new routine now. And that is, she always locks her doors.

“They never found my bags, I.D.s, or anything. So, from that day forward, we have always locked everyone's vehicle,” said Lewis.

Kristen Hunter with the Greenville Police Department says property crimes drive their numbers. And says the majority of break-ins happen because the car doors are open.

Hunter said, “Nine times out of ten when we receive a report for vehicle break-ins, that vehicle has been left unlocked."

Greenville Police’s campaign not only reminds residents to lock their doors but also to take out or hide visible items like firearms and electronics criminals may want to steal.

For example, electronics like portable navigation systems, firearms, and packages should be removed from the vehicle before walking into your home for the day.

Even though Hunter says crime is down, she said the parking lots are fuller than they usually are, which is the perfect time for a quick reminder to stay vigilant.

“We use this opportunity while people are at home. They're in more cars, in apartment complex parking lots,” Hunter said, “Vehicle break-ins are really a crime of opportunity.”

Tips from GPD to avoid vehicle break-ins:

- Lock your vehicle at all times

- Physically check to ensure your door is locked after using a key fob

- Don't leave valuables in plain sight

- Remove any firearms

- Get your neighbors to keep an eye out for each other's vehicles

- Report any suspicious activity to police and be descriptive

Hunter hopes residents will take heed, so they never become a victim.

“We just ask that everybody take that extra precaution. Lock your doors, take your valuables with you, and we can help prevent these crimes from occurring,” said Hunter.

Hunter also said to be sure to write down the serial numbers of all your items, so that if you are a victim of a break-in, police will be able to better track down your belongings. And best practices when witnessing a crime like a break-in in progress, call the police.