Officers warn of car break-ins

ESCANABA — When the weather warms up for the summer months more people are out and about. According to Escanaba Public Safety Department, warmer weather also means an increase in crimes of opportunity, like vehicle break-ins.

“Our call numbers definitely go up when the weather gets nicer,” Escanaba Public Safety Lt. John Gudwer said.

He explained vehicle break-ins occur year round and at any time of day. However, break-ins typically increase with warmer weather because nights are warmer and the individuals checking cars for valuables will more than likely go about it under the cover of darkness.

Items usually taken from vehicles are money, loose change, medication and anything of value, said Gudwer.

The typical scenario of car break-ins are an individual or individuals that go on a spree.

“We’ll get a bunch at a time. We might get 10 in a night or we got calls, you know (the victims) go out to their vehicle in the morning and they find that their car’s been (broken into) — and sometimes we get it where (the perpetrators) just go through it and they don’t really take anything because they didn’t find anything,” Gudwer said.

Almost all of the cases of theft from vehicles can be prevented or deterred by owners locking their vehicle doors.

“Most of our car (breaking and enterings) are all unlocked doors — and that is the same thing with break-ins in garages (and) entries into the houses. The doors are left unlocked. If people could just lock their doors it could be a great deterrent,” said Gudwer.

He added most people taking valuables from vehicles want to get in and out quickly, so they check for unlocked vehicles doors.

According to Gudwer, it is a rarity to see a vehicle with a smashed window because thieves are more likely to become noticed if they smash a window.

“They’re crimes of opportunity. They’re looking for the easy pickings. They don’t want to have to start breaking windows and stuff because that’s got a chance to draw a lot more attention to them,” he said.

Gudwer noted car break-ins can also lead to car thefts. He said in his 19 years of working at Escanaba Public Safety all of the car thefts he has handled were because the doors were left unlocked and the keys were left in the vehicle.

Another helpful deterrent to car break-ins is not leaving valuables in vehicles and in plain sight.

Gudwer said having items of value clearly visible entices possible thieves into breaking into the vehicle.

Items should also not be left in the back of a pickup truck or on a trailer, as it creates an easy opportunity for someone to just grab the item and leave.

Gudwer advises the public to be diligent and if they see anything suspicious to call 911 or Delta County Central Dispatch at 906-786-5911.

“It can occur during the daylight hours, but most criminals like to work under the cover of darkness — (they’re) just not as noticeable and there’s not as many people out,” he said.

If it looks suspicious it usually is, he said. He added if someone notices a suspicious person looking at cars at night to call police and not make contact themselves.

If your vehicle has been broken into, even if no items were taken, Gudwer advises reporting it to local law enforcement.

He explained reporting the crime could help police find evidence that could point to a suspect or help find the owner of stolen property if the property is recovered in the future.

“Please don’t be afraid to report anything. That’s what we are here for,” he said.

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