As temperatures in Natrona County rise, car thefts are going up with them.
Every summer, the county sees an uptick in people having things stolen from their cars or trucks, according to sheriff’s office spokesperson Kiera Grogan.
The “incredible majority” of car thefts occur when the car’s doors are left unlocked, according to Casper police spokesperson Rebekah Ladd.
The best thing you can do to prevent your stuff from being stolen? Lock your doors and make sure your windows are rolled all the way up.
“They’re very rarely going to break a window for the possibility of getting some change in there,” Grogan said.
If you park on the street or are in a public lot, try to park beneath a light. And take any valuable items with you if you can, or lock them in the trunk if you can’t.
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Warm weather means people are out later and more inclined to walk, rather than drive, around. In most cases, a car theft starts with an opportunity — either an unlocked door, an open window or a tempting item visible from outside the vehicle.
“Time and time again, we see surveillance footage from residential houses of people just tugging on car door handles,” Ladd said. “They’re going house to house, pulling on doors, and the ones that are open get burglarized.”
Grogan said that untraceable items like cash and change are often the most enticing, as well as other valuable items including firearms or subwoofers unattached to the car.
Casper police ran a campaign earlier this year encouraging residents to “Lock it Up,” or take their guns out of their cars. After the two-month campaign, the department reported a 35% decrease in missing firearm reports from the last two years.
If there’s anything in your car you wouldn’t want to give out to strangers, like mail with personal information, Grogan said it’s best to take it with you or put it out of sight.
Treat your car like you’d treat your home, Grogan said, and make sure to double check that it’s locked before you leave it or before going to bed. Most car thefts happen at night, when cars are parked outside the owner’s home.
The sheriff’s office also encourages people to keep an eye out for suspicious activity in their neighborhood, and to report any suspected thefts to law enforcement.