Safe Shopping Begins with You
by: Pat Hernandez, November 26, 2009 11:11:59 pm
Your focus might be on getting to as many stores as you can to complete your Christmas shopping. That focus might also distract you from thieves waiting to steal from you. Houston Police Officer James Sobota says during this time of
year, parking lot thefts peak, even for pocket change.
"Oh, absolutely. Many people, when they go to drive in stores, coffee shops, what they'll do is they'll leave change behind on their dashboard, and then their next stop, people will see pocket change and they will break into your vehicle and damage, break your glass, couple hundred dollars worth of damage, just to get their pocket change."
He says thieves know they can get away with just about anything from a parked car.
"Many people leave things behind. Anything from pocket change to purses to laptops to electronics. We're certainly trying to discourage everybody from leaving things in your car. This is a problem here in Houston with burglary of motor vehicles. But with everybody's encouragement to not to leave things behind, take control of your stuff, put things up. This will really reduce the chances of being a victim of crime."
As part of a partnership with stores like HEB, the HPD go to store parking lots to see if vehicles are secured. Officer Cruiser issued report cards on the vehicles he inspected.
"They either say pass or fail, and if it fails, why they failed. Whether the doors are unlocked or the windows are opened or they have packages or valuables in plain view."
He says thieves don't care when its time to strike.
"I don't think the time of year is actually affecting it, it seems like its consistently about 60-percent fail and about 40 percent pass."
Cyndy Garza Roberts is director of public affairs for HEB. She says the partnership with HPD has helped educate shoppers.
"What we at HEB saw is the importance of educating our customers in taking responsibility when it comes to shopping, especially during the holiday season. One of the things that we try and stress is that to be safe when you're out shopping. Our partnership with the police department is the same focus."
This motorist received a passing grade from the officers, but she knows she needs to be reminded about securing her vehicle.
"We tend to leave our purses and backpacks laying open and out for all to see. I commonly am lectured by other family members not to do so."
Police say the best thing to do when shopping — keep valuables out of the view of thieves.