A Novi woman plans to keep her safety a major priority after finding her minivan broken into at her work parking lot.
Jacqui Gretzinger worked late one night in Southfield and walked to her Chrysler Town & Country minivan about 8:15 p.m. just as it was getting dark. She arrived at her vehicle to discover someone had broken into it and stole her in-dash navigation system.
"Just as I'm unlocking my door, I see my console, the whole navigation system, DVD player, everything just kind of hanging out, ripped out, hanging out, wires everywhere. And I kind of panicked," said Gretzinger.
She said she was in shock at first and immediately worried someone could still be in her van. She looked around, saw no one, turned on the lights and then drove around to the front of the building where she works in Southfield to alert security. She called police, and said she was told to come down to the station to fill out a report.
Gretzinger is one of four Chrysler minivans broken into in the city of Southfield in the same week. In three cases, the in-dash navigation systems were stolen.
Dearborn Heights had five Chrysler vehicles broken into recently including minivans, Dearborn had five reports of Chrysler minivan break ins since September 5 with some in-dash systems stolen as well. In Royal Oak, three Chrysler vehicles broken into for the in-dash GPS devices. Auburn Hills police said they only had one report of a Chrylser minivan being broken into recently, but they know the Chrysler vehicles can be targets because the navigation systems have a high street value.
Dearborn Police Detective Michael Maurier told Local 4 Chrysler vehicles, especially those from the 1990s can be targets because they are easy to steal. He recommends drivers secure their vehicles, keep them locked and consider alarm systems, and The Club.
Detective Maurier said a really big problem with car thefts is that a lot of people still leave their valuables in plain view inside their vehicles which make it tempting for thieves to steal; that includes laptops, GPS systems, cell phones, even purses left on the front seat. He also said a lot of people leave their cars unlocked.
All the police departments Local 4 spoke with said Chrysler vehicles are not the only ones being targeted and that all vehicles can be broken into.
Gretzinger said she always locks her minivan and has a routine to make sure she does.
She suffered $5,000 damage to her minivan and has to wait a couple months before a new in-dash system will be installed. She said the experience has her more aware of her surroundings and she plans to park at work where she knows there are surveillance cameras.
"I'm no longer going to stay late at night when it's dark," said Gretzinger.
As for walking to and from your car, Gretzinger offers this advice to others:
"To make sure when you're going, you're not on your cell phone, you're not reading emails as your walking to your car, but make sure that you're focused and you're looking at your car for as far in advance as you can. And if you see somebody breaking in, don't approach them because you don't know if they have any weapons," said Gretzinger. "I'm just making sure that I'm looking forward and not looking at anything else when I'm going to my car."