In 2017, the City of San Francisco experienced a 27 percent increase in vehicle burglaries, according to the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD). To address the problem, the SFPD increased foot patrols in areas most affected by the increase in thefts and began a public education campaign to help people protect themselves from becoming a victim.
Here in Ukiah, I am happy to report that we have very few vehicle burglaries; in fact, our community only experienced 13 vehicle burglaries in 2017. However, we did have 42 reported thefts from unlocked cars, so I want to let people know how they can protect themselves and their belongings.
Some of the most commonly stolen items are backpacks, gym bags, briefcases, cash/coins, wallets, purses, portable GPS navigation systems, cell phones and other items of obvious value. Most recently, vehicle burglaries and thefts in Ukiah have occurred in our shopping center parking lots and in our westside neighborhoods.
To avoid becoming a victim , please consider these tips:
Don't leave valuables in your car. This sounds like common sense, but people leave items of value in plain view every day. If you leave valuable items visible in your car, you become a target. If you have to leave packages, shopping bags or valuables in your car unattended, lock them in the trunk out of sight. Thieves will even go after loose change in the console or cup holder. However, without a clear prize in sight, a locked car will likely be bypassed for an easier “target of opportunity.”
Leave no trace. Don’t leave any sign that there might be valuables in your vehicle, such as docking stations or connector cables that let thieves know you sometimes have a cell phone there. Leave nothing in plain view that might make your vehicle worth breaking into. Additionally, hide your garage door opener. Depending on how it is programmed, it could be used to open your garage, residence or another building.
Lock all vehicle doors. Every year, people report items stolen from their unlocked vehicles, explaining that they were only going to be gone “for a second.” Unfortunately, it only takes seconds to steal your belongings!
Use your alarm or anti-theft device. If you have an alarm, set it! Many people believe that car alarms no longer make a difference, but they can be an effective deterrent to a burglar looking for an easy target. Alarms bring unwanted attention—making your car a riskier target for them.
What to do if your car is burglarized. As soon as you notice something has been stolen or that your car has been broken into, do not touch or adjust anything in, on, or around the car. Call the police as soon as possible to report the crime and let the responding officer determine whether evidence is present.
Once your car is cleaned out, consider going home and cleaning out your medicine cabinet of any unwanted prescription drugs.
Medicines play an important role in treating certain conditions and diseases, but unused medicine disposed of improperly (thrown in the trash or flushed down the toilet), can be very harmful our environment and water systems. And some pain medications (including opioids) should not be left where they can fall into the wrong hands.
That’s why, here at the UPD, we have a medications disposal box located in our front lobby and available to the public Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The box is emptied regularly by the Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority and CalRecycle who know how to dispose of medications safely.
Please note, the drop box should NOT be used to discard needles, liquids, or other trash. Our hope is that through the proper disposal of medications, we will help protect our environment’s waterways and assure these medications are not abused.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.