As temperatures climb, local residents are gearing up to celebrate a quasi-holiday with Friday’s home opener for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. If you’re a baseball fan, chances are you’ve been eyeing weather forecasts and picking up snacks to celebrate properly. But there’s more you can do to prepare for the Home Opener, and it has to do with protecting yourself and your valuables.
In spring and summer, downtown Detroit comes alive. Auto theft prevention experts at Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (HEAT) encourage you to head downtown and enjoy the city, but do so mindfully. Like any large urban center, Detroit experiences instances of crime and thieves looking to take advantage of the hustle and bustle that comes with increased traffic.
As the temperature rises and the days grow longer, opportunistic criminals are attracted to easy targets for vehicle break-ins, carjacking, and other auto theft-related crimes. Here are a few tips to protect yourself and your valuables during this baseball season and all year long:
- Park in well-lit, secure lots. Try to park in a well-lit area with pedestrian traffic or in a lot with a city-credentialed attendant. If possible, park in a secure, city-owned lot.
- Use common sense. Always roll up your windows and close your sunroof. It sounds obvious, but never leave your car unlocked or your vehicle running unattended, even if you are just going into a store for a quick errand.
- Place valuables in the trunk or out of sight. Personal items account for a large percentage of auto-related crime. Do not leave valuables in plain view, as it attracts thieves. If you must leave something in your vehicle, lock it in the trunk or place items out of sight before you arrive at your destination.
- Be alert. As you approach your vehicle, be aware of your surroundings. Remember where your car is parked and walk directly to it. Avoid talking or texting on cell phones or digging for keys, as it can be a distraction and can make you an easy target.
- If threatened by a carjacker, GIVE UP THE CAR. Improved technology is making vehicles harder to steal, so thieves are resorting to carjacking. Most carjackings involve a weapon, so don’t resist or argue. You are more important than your vehicle, purse, wallet, or other valuables. Give them up and get out of harm’s way.
- Consider where you park. Avoid parking near objects that block your view of the surrounding area such as dumpsters, bushes, large vans, or trucks and avoid parking next to cars with dark tinted windows that you cannot see through.
- Invest in extra security. Arming your car with extra security can help deter criminals. Electronic immobilizers, as well as visual and physical deterrents such as steering wheel locks, floorboard and pedal locks, gearshift locks, and wheel clamps can make your car less appealing to criminals.
- If you witness an auto theft, carjacking in progress, or anything suspicious, call the police immediately. If you have any information regarding auto theft, insurance fraud, or carjacking call H.E.A.T.’s confidential tip reward line at 1-800-242-HEAT to register your tip after you have informed local law enforcement. You could be rewarded up to $10,000 for a tip leading to an arrest.
As Detroiters, we have much to celebrate during Friday’s opening day – another great baseball season, warm weather, new restaurants, bars, and activities downtown, and more. Let’s do so safely, and Let’s Go Tigers!
Terri Miller is executive director of Help Eliminate Auto Thefts, Michigan’s statewide auto theft prevention program. If you have information on an auto theft-related crime, please call H.E.A.T.’s 24/7 tip line at 1-800-242-HEAT or visit www.1800242HEAT.com. Follow H.E.A.T. on Facebook and on Twitter @1800242HEAT.