Sign pushes anti-theft message

Published 9:12 pm Thursday, August 4, 2016

A sign warning residents to lock their car doors has been making appearances at big intersections across Suffolk, thanks to the police department.

The message board, of the type usually employed to relay construction information, was at the intersection of Godwin Boulevard and a Route 58 off-ramp for about a week before it was moved on Wednesday to Harbour View Boulevard near Hampton Roads Parkway. The sign calls leaving doors unlocked a “safety hazard.”

This sign has been making appearances in Suffolk, encouraging people to lock their car doors, especially at night. (Submitted Photo)

This sign has been making appearances in Suffolk, encouraging people to lock their car doors, especially at night. (Submitted Photo)

“One of our lieutenants came up with the idea,” said Suffolk Police Department Maj. Gerald Brandsasse. “We’ve been looking for different ways to manage the increase of theft from motor vehicles.”

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Brandsasse said the majority of thefts from motor vehicles occur when the vehicle was left unlocked.

“When you see the sign, it makes you think,” Brandsasse said.

Apparently, a lot of residents have been thinking twice about the wisdom of leaving their car unlocked. Capt. James Buie said police have not received any reports of vehicle break-ins in the Godwin Boulevard area since the sign went up, although dispatchers did receive several calls asking about the reason for the sign.

“It’s just another way we’ve been trying to reach out to the public to give them public awareness information,” Buie said, adding that the police have also been handing out fliers with information about preventing theft. “It’s a message we really want to get across.”

Buie said the locations were chosen because Hillpoint, a neighborhood off Godwin Boulevard near Route 58, and Harbour View have high numbers of vehicle break-in reports.

“It seems to be lately, these two areas have been targeted the most,” he said. “That’s where we try to focus our attention.”

For those who have not yet gotten the message, Buie stressed the importance of leaving car doors locked, not leaving valuables inside and parking in a well-lit area.

“Please lock your car doors and don’t keep valuables in your car, especially firearms,” he said. “People are walking by looking in cars. If they see something of value, they will try the door handle. If it is locked, then most of the time they move on.”

Buie said few criminals will risk breaking the window of a locked vehicle.

“That draws a lot more attention than they want to draw,” he said.