By Bugle Staff
Several local law enforcement agencies are reminding residents of ways to guard their belongings, following what police have described as an “uptick in car thefts and burglaries.”
The Downers Grove and Woodridge police departments, as well as the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office, each released press announcements detailing ways that residents can avoid becoming victims.
In Downers Grove, police said there has been an increase in the number of car burglaries and car thefts.
“Many of the burglaries occurred when vehicles were left unlocked in the owner’s driveway,” according to a village of Downers Grove news release. “Car burglaries occur in both residential areas, as well as in public parking lots. Remember to always lock your vehicle upon exiting it – even when your vehicle is parked in your driveway.”
The sheriff’s office also noted an increase in the number of stolen vehicles in DuPage County over the past three months. Suspects have reportedly sought out unlocked vehicles, where the keys had been left inside.
“These vehicle thefts are occurring during the overnight hours,” the sheriff’s office stated. “In addition to stealing the vehicles, the thieves are stealing purses and wallets, and then using the identity and credit cards of the victims while traveling in their stolen vehicle.”
Authorities also warned that some suspects have even entered victims’ homes using garage door openers found inside the unlocked vehicle.
“In several car theft cases occurring in neighboring towns, the offender entered an unlocked home while the residents slept to locate the keys to the vehicle in the driveway that they wanted to steal,” Downers Grove officials stated. “Always lock your doors anytime you leave your home and at night.”
In Woodridge, authorities said officers had responded to several car burglaries in the month of August, many of which were the result of unlocked vehicles.
The Woodridge Police Department said residents should always lock their homes and vehicles, and hide valuables such as cellphones and tablets in order to deter potential burglars.
Additionally, Woodridge police warned residents of ruse entry burglaries. Ruse entry burglaries occur when an individual enters a residence by deceiving the owner and stealing valuables or cash. Senior citizens are often the targets of these schemes, which typically occur during daylight hours.
The department added that these offenders usually pose as outside workers, such as surveyors or utility workers, in order to lure a resident out of their home and away from the front entrance. When the homeowner is outside, another offender typically sneaks inside the home and gathers small items, such as jewelry, flatware or cash.
Woodridge police stressed that all village of Woodridge employees can be identified by their village of Woodridge ID, uniform and village vehicle.
Authorities are asking anyone who witnesses suspicious activity to call 911 and report the situation as soon as it occurs.
“Anyone who observes a criminal act in progress or acting suspiciously is asked to call 911 immediately, and to not take any action that would place them in danger,” the sheriff’s office added.
Burglary prevention tips
Each year, there are more than 5 million home burglaries in the U.S. Many of these can be prevented by following these simple steps.
- Make sure to lock vehicles, homes, windows and patio doors
- Hide valuables left in your car
- Park your vehicle in busy well-lit areas
- Trim hedges and bushes so thieves can’t hide out, particularly around entryways and windows
- Make sure your home is well lit so burglars can’t hide from pedestrians and motorists
- Notify your local police department when leaving for vacation so they can provide an extra watch
- Be alert at all times and report any and all suspicious subjects/vehicles in your neighborhood
- Don’t allow anyone access to your home without a proper appointment and verification; when in doubt, call the police
- Be suspicious of anyone who knocks on your door with an offer that sounds ‘too good to be true’
- Never pay for work in advance; always pay at the conclusion of the job