Car prowls dampen holiday cheer

Leaving Christmas presents in your car could prove an irresistible lure for thieves.

The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office is spreading that not-so-merry holiday message after seven residents in Odell were victimized by a spree of car prowls within the past week.

Those crimes follow seven other breakins during the past 30 days that has netted the unknown suspects a combined total of more than $7,500 in electronic equipment and other goods.

“If you don’t want it stolen don’t leave it in your car,” said Hood River County Detective Gerry Tiffany.

Tiffany said car prowls remain the top property crime in the county and are most likely being committed by juveniles. However, he said the perpetrators of the recent crimes seem to be less experienced at removing car stereos and CD players than the thieves involved in other break-ins at the first of the year.

For that reason, Tiffany said a lot more dashboards are being damaged and sometimes the electronic items are ruined in the process of being pried out of holders. He said there are no known suspects at this time but many citizens were easy targets because the doors to their vehicles had been left unlocked.

In addition to securing unoccupied cars or pickups, Tiffany recommends citizens take the following precautionary measures:

* Park in well-lit areas.

* Don’t leave valuables within plain view.

* Engrave expensive accessories and major parts with your VIN or personal identification number.

* Face the front of the car toward a light source so that is plainly visible.

* Never hide a second set of keys on the car.

* Park the vehicle in a garage if one is available.

During the first weeks of 2001, numerous vehicles were broken into throughout the county.

Please turn to Sheriff’s Log on page A8.

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