New Method of Automobile Break-In
I drove myself and two co-workers to lunch Monday. I chose a parking spot in the rear of the lot and backed into a space (there were no pull-throughs available at the location). This positioned my Chevy Avalanche with the passenger side doors facing away from the rest of the lot and to the end of the lot. I had a Sony digital camera lying on the console of my truck. Upon returning from lunch and entering the vehicle we noticed nothing wrong or missing from the vehicle.
Tuesday, around lunch time, I needed the camera and could not locate it. My first thoughts were that I moved it, or it fell to the floor mat or I removed it from my truck. After searching feverishly for two days, questioning anyone who had been close to my truck, and exhausting every possible location I could have put it, I began to have that sinking feeling I lost it or someone stole it. My new Garmin GPS had been in the truck the whole time, so I felt as if someone had entered my vehicle they would have taken it also.
Fast forward to Wednesday, I approached my truck from the passenger side to place my computer bag (aka my man purse) in the front passenger seat. As I reached to open the door I noticed there was a hole right under my door handle. My first thought was that someone had shot my truck! I began to think about it and inspect it a little closer and the “light” slowly began to come on. I phoned my friend who owns a body shop and asked if he had any vehicles with damage to the doors that looked like a bullet hole. His response was that he sees it all the time. Thieves have a punch and place it right under the door handle, knock a hole through, reach in and unlock it, just as if they have a key. No alarms, broken glass or anything.
I then placed a call to my insurance agent, who is also a friend, and explained it to him. I proceeded to tell him the situation and how I was puzzled that they left my GPS and all other belongings. Here is where it gets scary! His reply was that they want the break-in to be so subtle that the victims don’t even realize it. They look at your GPS to see where “home” is. Now they know what you drive, go to your home, and if your vehicle isn’t there they assume you aren’t and break in your home. He said that they will even leave a purse or wallet and only take one or two credit cards. If the thieves find a check book, they only take checks from the middle section so they wouldn’t be noticed. They even give you the courtesy of re-locking your doors for you. (I guess they don’t want it to be broken into by other thieves!) By the time the victims realize there has been a theft, they may have already had a couple days or more to use them. This is another reason they want the break-in to go unnoticed. I didn’t realize my situation for two full days!
Here are a few things you should do:
- Do NOT leave valuables in sight inside the car. Either take them with you are lock them in your trunk.
- Remove your home address as “home” from your GPS unit ASAP! Put in your local Wal-Mart address or somewhere else!
- Park your vehicle in a highly visible place. I positioned mine perfectly for them and didn’t realize it until it was too late.
- Periodically walk around your car, especially if you are in a shopping center or other parking area.
- Report thefts immediately. Call the police and your insurance company, your bank with missing check numbers, your credit card agencies, etc.
I hope this is beneficial to you and helps you keep your valuables in your possession and your vehicle from damage. Most importantly, it may keep the thieves from showing up at your home!
NOTE: The following information was provided to me by Don Smith, Chief Information Security Officer of STAR Financial Bank and has been confirmed by John Lefever, President of STAR Insurance. John has spoke with local body shops who have verified that this is very true and that they have seen several just like this. Sometimes the damage can be repaired and on others, it requires a whole new exterior door skin.