Dearborn Heights Police Department urging residents to protect their vehicles during overnight hours

‘Make sure the vehicle is locked at all times when they are parked outdoors, day or night’

The Dearborn Heights Police Department is urging residents to protect their vehicles during overnight hours. (Provided by Consumer Reports)

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. – The Dearborn Heights Police Department is urging residents to protect their vehicles during overnight hours.

Officials say they have been receiving growing complaints from residents who have reported break-ins of their vehicles during the overnight hours and the theft of the belongings that were left in them.

“With the midst of the summer season here and all the great things that come with the warm weather, there also some not-so-favorable activities, including the potential for car break-ins and theft of their contents,” said Dearborn Heights Police Commissioner Joseph Thomas. “Unfortunately, this seems to be a growing trend evidenced by the fact that recently, we experienced five break-ins in a single day.”

Thomas gives a few tips to help reduce break-ins in your neighborhood.

“Obviously, the best way to avoid these types of problems is to keep your vehicles garaged overnight,” Thomas said.

Thomas said residents could take a few easy steps to help reduce their risk of becoming theft victims.

“The easiest and most fundamental step is to make sure the vehicle is locked at all times when they are parked outdoors, day or night,” Thomas said. “Lock your vehicle! It always amazes me the number of times we respond to a vehicle break-in, and when the owner is asked if the vehicle was locked, we are told no, it wasn’t.

“Second, remove any valuable or attractive items from your vehicle. Items left in plain sight, such as money (even loose change), cell phones, laptops and tablets, wallets, GPS devices and garage door openers. Most vehicle break-ins are crimes of opportunity. The more visible and valuable a vehicle’s contents appear to a potential thief, and the easier it is to enter the vehicle, like through an unlocked door, the greater the likelihood you’re going to lose those items, if not your car altogether.

“It is also helpful, especially when parked overnight, to keep your locked vehicle(s) parked in areas that are lighted as much as possible, either by street lights or motion-sensitive lights mounted on your house or garage.”

Small, attractive items being left in vehicles are not the only targets, officials say.

Police say large items like steering wheels and catalytic converters command high prices on the stolen parts market.

“Vehicles left in dark, out-of-the-way areas are particularly vulnerable to these types of thefts,” Thomas said. “The criminals who specialize in these items can remove them from an unprotected vehicle with astonishing speed. And many of these parts are incredibly expensive to replace -- especially if the owner does not have the proper insurance coverage.”

Thomas said key fobs can also pose an issue.

“People need to realize that when they come into their house and toss their keys on a counter near the door, the fob is sometimes still in range of the car, meaning the car can be unlocked and started by anyone without actually having the fob in their hands,” Thomas said. “This gives the potential thief easy access to the vehicle, whether to remove its contents or, in a worst-case scenario, to drive it away with it.

“The rule of thumb is, for safety, to make sure your key fob is out of range of your parked car. To test this, it’s as simple as pressing the fob’s panic button. If the alarm sounds, it is in range. If not, you’re good. Obviously, it’s impossible to ensure 100% protection whenever a vehicle is parked outside, but with just a few common-sense steps, residents can certainly help reduce the risk of experiencing problems like this in the future.”

About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.