MPD: Nearly 500 vehicle thefts in the city, more than half were ‘preventable’

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Nearly 500 automobiles have been reported stolen throughout the city so far this year, that’s according to the Mobile Police Department. And police say, more than half could have been prevented.

Police say 57% of the vehicles were stolen because of opportunity. Police say if the car were spotted running, the suspects would jump in and drive off. Other instances – suspects would go around “pulling on door handles,” and find the keys inside the unlocked vehicle, then would drive off with the car. The Auto Theft Unit says these suspects are “opportunist criminals,” meaning they say an opportunity to commit a crime, and took advantage.

“If we can do better, and we can bring that number down, it helps us in becoming the safest city,” said Mobile Police Chief Lawrence Battiste.

228 of the 496 vehicles stolen were taken because the driver left the keys in either the vehicle, or ignition. 56 were stolen after the vehicles were left running at places like gas stations, laundromats, and homes.

Police say this is a decrease from last year, when 540 vehicles were stolen. “We can do better. when we lock our vehicles up, our vehicle thefts go down,” said Battiste.

The Auto Theft Unit is now urging drivers to ‘stop creating this crime of opportunity.’ They encourage drivers to take these steps to reduce the number of auto thefts:

  • Remove keys from the ignition, close the windows and lock the vehicle doors.  
  • Don’t leave vehicles running unattended and unlocked, even if it’s a quick errand.  
  • And, do not keep a spare key in the vehicle such as in the glove box, as that’s where auto thieves tend to look first. 

Just this week, a man left his vehicle running and unlocked in front of the Shell Gas Station on Navco Road. When he came back outside, he told police his car was gone. “Don’t think that we’ll I’ll leave the door unlocked and throw my keys under the seat. Don’t leave them in there! It becomes a crime of opportunity,” said Battiste.

The man told MPD he was only inside for a second. “Someone that is looking for an opportunity, you make it easy for them. They may commit that crime when otherwise they might not,” said Battiste.

FULL RELEASE FROM MOBILE POLICE DEPARTMENT:

So far this year, the Mobile Police Department reports a total of 496 vehicles stolen throughout the city. But, over half could have been prevented if drivers simply didn’t leave the keys in the vehicle with the doors unlocked.  

Fifty-seven percent of the vehicles were stolen because of drivers making the crime easy to commit. If the vehicles were spotted left running, the suspects just jumped right in and drove off. Others went around pulling on door handles and found the keys in the unlocked vehicle and stole the vehicle that way.  

The Auto Theft Unit describes the suspects stealing vehicles in this fashion as opportunist criminals. They saw an opportunity to commit a crime and took advantage of the situation. 

Of the total number of auto thefts, 228 vehicles were taken due to the driver leaving the keys in the vehicle or in the ignition. A total of 56 vehicles were stolen while left running at places such as gas stations, laundry mats and residences.  

The Auto Theft Unit urges drivers to stop creating this crime of opportunity. Here are a few simple steps to follow to help reduce the number of auto thefts.  

  • Remove keys from the ignition, close the windows and lock the vehicle doors.  
  • Don’t leave vehicles running unattended and unlocked, even if it’s a quick errand.  
  • And, do not keep a spare key in the vehicle such as in the glove box, as that’s where auto thieves tend to look first. 

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