Falls Residents Leave Car Doors Open For Criminals

A majority of thefts from vehicles reported by the Menomonee Falls Police Department are from unlocked vehicles.

In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be a need for locks on doors to our homes and vehicles.

Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from a perfect place. However, more than 20 reported thefts from unlocked cars over the past several months are evidence that not everyone has taken this truth to heart.

Since March 1, the Menomonee Falls Police Department has responded to 32 thefts from vehicles. In 23 of those incidents, thieves simply opened the door and took whatever they could get their hands on. (See Patch's interactive map detailing the locations of these crimes.)

The stolen property reads like a Christmas list from an electronics guru —Apple iPods, cell phones, chargers, ear bud headphones, a digital camera, memory cards, GPS units and more. And there are also things like credit cards, cash, sunglasses, prescription medications and even handguns. An official value of all stolen property was not available from police.

“Oftentimes these are thefts of opportunity. Criminals will bypass cars that are locked,” said Police Capt. Mark Waters. “In most thefts from vehicles now, they are removing contents from the vehicles versus components of cars.”

In May, criminals struck unlocked vehicles in groups. On May 15, criminals struck seven unlocked vehicles, which were all parked in the driveways of homes on the same block.  On May 26, seven more vehicles were stolen from in one night.

“There is normally an upsurge of thefts from vehicles transitioning from spring into summer,” Waters said. “This is only speculation on my part, but I suspect the weather is more conducive for the criminal element to be out on foot doing such crimes.”

Police asking that residents take the following precautions when leaving their vehicles parked outside:

  • Remove all valuables from the vehicle: wallets, purses, laptops, cell phones, iPods, etc.
  • Lock your vehicles
  • Illuminate the exterior of your house/garage if possible.

“I implore people to remove valuables from their cars even in their driveway. Lock your vehicles. A lot can be done to prevent these crimes from happening,” Waters said.

An elderly Menomonee Falls couple, who wished not to be identified, said they lock their doors “most of the time.”

“We’ll lock our doors about 80 percent of the time,” said the woman. “I’ll leave them unlocked if I’m running into the store quickly. But I always lock the door if we have something we bought from a store, or our dog in the car.”

Her husband said they’ve been in other neighborhoods in the Milwaukee area where he said he’d just leave the door unlocked to avoid having his window broken.

“If I’ve got nothing valuable in the car, I’ll leave it unlocked,” he said. “If they are really want to break in, they will. I’d rather not have my window broken in the process.”

David Guildner, who is also a Menomonee Falls resident, said he always locks his doors regardless of the situation.

“It’s just a habit I’ve had since I started driving. It’s easy enough to do with remote locks on my keychain,” Guildner said.

All the guidelines around locking car doors are also applicable to the home. Although burglaries from homes far less common in the home, shows why you can never be too safe. Earlier in June, a 20-year-old Sussex man who had a blood-alcohol content of 0.30, wandered into a family’s home at 4:50 a.m. on Fairview Drive.

Although his intentions didn’t appear criminal, how only got in becuase their doors were unlocked.

Police ask residents to report all entries to vehicles — no matter what type of items were taken. Reporting these crimes can help police target areas and help to establish a time frame for the occurrences — without your reports, police will not know of the crime that is occurring.

If you have any questions or information regarding these thefts, please contact the Menomonee Falls Police Department  (262) 532-8700.

Nate June 23, 2011 at 08:34 PM
I'm going to put a bunch of cash and electronics in my unlocked car and rig a bomb to the door handle. That will solve this.
David M June 23, 2011 at 11:56 PM
I approve of this message.
Cx2plusE@aol.com June 24, 2011 at 09:18 AM
I always lock my car doors


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