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Holiday shoppers beware of car break-ins

November 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
With the shopping season starting to pick up speed, parking lots and shopping centers are becoming very busy places. But the holiday shopping season also means crime.Shoppers often make themselves easy targets for thieves, leaving valuables, such as purses and bags full of merchandise, in plain sight inside their vehicles.

The LAPD says it only takes a few seconds for a thief to break into a car. Authorities say it's the San Fernando Valley's number one preventable crime.

"It's happened about 9,400 times so far this year in the San Fernando Valley and that's a decrease over last year. So while it's a crime that occurs somewhat frequently, it's one that we can have a greater impact on," explained LAPD Dep. Chief Kirk Albanese.

The LAPD wants shoppers to be extra careful during the holiday shopping season. The department's "Lock It, Hide It, Keep It" campaign emphasizes the importance of locking vehicles and hiding any valuables left behind.

"Criminals are looking for any items of valuables that they can basically sell really quick. A laptop, a computer, a gps are really fast and easy to take out of a vehicle," said LAPD Officer John Perez.

"I try not to leave things in the car when I'm shopping because I know that's a big no-no, I mean it's basically providing opportunity for a potential thief," said shopper Marlon Pitts.

Police are handing out flyers to educate shoppers, and officers on horseback while be patrolling some shopping areas.

"It's an effort on our part to work with the community to lower the incidence of crime because that's what we do," said Albanese.

The LAPD says it's campaign has led to a significant reduction in vehicle break-ins in parts of the San Fernando Valley.


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