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Jack Simpson - Protect your valuables

Ladies know not to leave purses in their cars, don't they? Well, yes, and they also know that an unlocked vehicle is a tempting target for thieves. So why are we reading and hearing about case after case where the lady of the house has been robbed of cash, debit and credit cards, GPS systems and cell phones from the family automobiles?

Those who steal for a living cruise likely targets and locations where easy theft is possible. These criminals are migratory, many coming right down I-20 from communities nearby where they reside. We also have our own home-grown variety of thieves.

Citizens who leave valuables in plain view in parked vehicles should not be shocked when thieves target their cars. A rock thrown through a window brings easy access to a locked vehicle and an unlocked one is even easier prey. Unlocked vehicles are the choice of a petty thief because it is quick entry and departure.

Ladies are not the only ones having vehicles broken into. Your next-door neighbor may frame houses for a living. Tools left in his truck will probably soon be long gone. Ask him how many items he has already missed.

In today's economy, jobs are scarce, prices are high, foreclosures are common and thieves are more active. A stolen credit card can help pay bills at least for awhile before the criminal is eventually caught and prosecuted.

Thieves do not like to think about being caught. They try to avoid arrest, prosecution and probation. Alert citizens can interfere with the best laid plans of those who prey upon the innocent. Be alert to your surroundings.

Individuals get careless. They are trusting, feeling that they won't be victimized. If a purse or valuables are left in the car, at least take the time to record the serial numbers of valuables. Investigators often have greater success in solving automobile break-in cases if serial numbers are available for placement on national computers.

Of course, everyone knows leaving valuables in automobiles is a no-no. Shopping areas and restaurant parking lots are poor choices for ignoring this rule ... that is the very place where many thieves hang out. Crooks cruising around are watching and looking for easy marks. Do not be one of them!

You might be a Sunday School teacher or devoted to your mother and children, but thieves do not care who you are. They need quick cash, something they can sell or pawn for drug or booze money.

Petty thieves usually do not become wealthy. They squander their ill-gotten gains quickly and may even throw your personal papers out on the street after stealing your purse. Ladies have reported finding their drivers' licenses in the parking lot and purses in nearby dumpsters after the money and credit cards have been removed.

Sooner or later, some of these thieves will be caught by already overworked police. Help authorities catch and prosecute law breakers. Be alert to your surroundings. Do not leave valuables in parked vehicles and encourage neighborhood watches. Remove temptation from those who have no respect for their neighbors or the law.

Jack Simpson is a former educator, veteran, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.