INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – While you’re thinking of what to give others this holiday season, would-be crooks are thinking about what they can take from you.
24-Hour News 8 has already seen reports of thieves targeting cars full of gifts which are left out in plain sight in cars. You may think they’re safe locked inside, but police say they’re not.
Whether shoppers are downtown or visiting malls on the north side, police say criminals are looking for cars with items sitting out in the open. And the crime is simple: smash a window, grab, go.
“I have a Kindle in there, that’s the only thing that’s really valuable,” said Lauren Bienemann as she stood outside her car downtown. “I have it hidden under some bags so I figured it would be OK.”
That’s how Bienemann hopes to avoid becoming a victim, but other drivers couldn’t say the same.
As 24-Hour News 8 reporter Jeff Wagner peeked through car windows, he found Beats by Dre head phones sitting out in plain view, back packs and designer sunglasses.
“The biggest issue is people leaving things in the open, visibly in parking lots where they can be taken in just a matter of seconds,” said Lt. Chris Bailey, spokesman for IMPD.
A laptop was reported stolen from a car in the Sullivan’s restaurant parking lot Wednesday night off 86th Street, right next to the Fashion Mall where thousands of shoppers will spend thousands of dollars in the coming weeks.
“We just want people to have an enjoyable holiday season without being a victim and this is a 100 percent preventable crime,” Lt. Bailey said.
Prevention starts by not leaving things out in the open. IMPD suggests you hide items in your trunk or take some items home instead of leaving them sitting in a parked car. Also, bring items home instead of overloading a car.
“Or you make arrangements for other people to come pick up your packages and take them home,” Lt. Bailey added.
Bienemann’s Kindle was hidden in her car but she wasn’t taking any chances even though she was just grabbing a quick lunch. She took out the device in her purse and took it with her.
Throughout this holiday season, IMPD officers will be putting flyers under your windshield wipers. On it are tips on how to avoid becoming a victim while shopping. Officers are dropping the flyers off downtown and especially in the north district where the Fashion Mall and Castleton Square Mall are located.
That’s also where they will beef up patrols. IMPD has squad cars circling the lots, looking for people acting suspicious.
“All the district commanders, especially the ones that have large amounts of malls or stores on their districts, always direct their personnel to patrol parking lots especially during peak times – Saturdays, Sundays, Black Friday, where they know there’s going to be a lot of people in and out of the parking lots,” Lt. Bailey said.
IMPD also wants you to protect yourself, not just your vehicle.
They say to shop in pairs or groups, that way you’re not walking alone to your car with an armful of bags. Park in a well lit area, and if you are alone and don’t feel safe, IMPD suggests asking if store security can escort you to your car.