MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -- So far this year, the Mobile Police Department reports a total of 496 vehicles stolen throughout the city, a decline from the same time period last year.

They say over half could have been prevented if drivers simply didn’t leave the keys in the vehicle with the doors unlocked.

According to MPD, 57% percent of the vehicles were stolen because of drivers making the crime easy to commit. If the vehicles were spotted left running, the suspects just jumped right in and drove off. Others went around pulling on door handles and found the keys in the unlocked vehicle and stole the vehicle that way.

“Someone that is looking for an opportunity and you make it easy for them they may commit that crime when they otherwise would not because they’d have to ravage through your vehicle or they would have to find your keys in order to commit the crime that they’re about to perpetrate,” said Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste. 

The Auto Theft Unit describes the suspects stealing vehicles in this fashion as opportunist criminals. They saw an opportunity to commit a crime and took advantage of the situation.

Police lights

“When we lock our vehicles up, our vehicle thefts go down,” Battiste said.

Of the total number of auto thefts, 228 vehicles were taken due to the driver leaving the keys in the vehicle or in the ignition. A total of 56 vehicles were stolen while left running at places such as gas stations, laundry mats and residences.

“Usually half of the vehicles that are stolen during that week that same number vehicles is recovered during that same time cycle,” Battiste said.

The Auto Theft Unit urges drivers to stop creating this crime of opportunity. Here are a few simple steps to follow to help reduce the number of auto thefts.

• Remove keys from the ignition, close the windows and lock the vehicle doors.

• Don’t leave vehicles running unattended and unlocked, even if it’s a quick errand.

• And, do not keep a spare key in the vehicle such as in the glove box, as that’s where auto thieves tend to look first.

All content © 2020, WALA; Mobile, AL. (A Meredith Corporation Station). All Rights Reserved.  

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