As the unseasonably warm Indian summer fades to the chill, foggy days of a Central Valley winter, Oakdale Police are reminding the community that criminals often look for quick opportunities to steal other people’s property and a foggy night makes for perfect cover.
“As soon as the fog starts to roll in, we see more crime because of the lower visibility,” Sgt. Michael Nixon of the Oakdale Police Department warned. “You can’t even see the light of a flashlight at times until you’re right there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on patrol on a foggy night and suddenly heard a glass break on a vehicle but you have no idea where it came from because you can’t see a thing.”
Holiday shopping has begun in earnest, which means as shoppers are busily checking off holiday lists, criminal opportunists are also shopping — through your car windows.
“I was floored by how much merchandise was sitting on the back seats of people’s cars on Black Friday. Laptops, printers, you name it, right in plain sight,” Nixon said. “If they (criminals) see something they can grab quickly, they’re going to.”
Nixon suggests the best way to keep your valuables safe is to put them out of plain view, employing the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.
“Put your valuables in the trunk if you have a car, or at least cover it up with a blanket or something. Don’t just leave it right there for anyone to see,” Nixon said.
Recently, a thief stole a woman’s purse from her locked vehicle by pushing the window down and quickly stealing the valuable. Likely, many people have been guilty of leaving a valuable or two in the car during the night, but to do is courting disaster as thieves look specifically for such opportunities. In the time it takes to report the stolen credit or bank cards, thieves have already been taking advantage of what doesn’t belong to them.
Some simple tips to remember as the holiday season and winter chill settles into the valley:
* Keep valuables out of plain sight (even better, remove them from the vehicle)
* Install car alarms
* Always lock your vehicle
* Don’t leave your running vehicle unattended — an empty vehicle with the keys in the ignition is just too tempting to pass up.
If you’ve been the victim of a crime, report the incident to the Oakdale Police Department at 209-847-2231.