Cars, cars, cars

On the beat

Starting in early November, the University Circle area experienced a rash of vehicle break-ins and catalytic converter thefts. These types of crimes hit the University Circle and Little Italy areas periodically, because these areas have a large numbers of parked cars due to commuters and apartment dwellers. Here are some facts and tips about car theft.

Auto-related crimes can occur anytime, even in broad daylight. A number of recent thefts in the area have taken place in surface lots in the Little Italy and Murray Hill area, or overnight from parked cars in the Carlton Road and Stearns Road areas.

If you see suspicious activity around cars or in parking lots in the area, call the Case Western Reserve University Police Department at 216-368-3333. Suspicious activity can mean people pulling on door handles, breaking glass, trying to jimmy or force their way into cars or anything that looks like trying to get into a car without a key. Also, watch for people underneath cars—this is where you have to go to cut off catalytic converters, which are valued for the metals they contain.

When parking on the street, try and find a well-lit spot, if possible. When leaving your parked car, try not to leave valuables such as cash, laptops or GPS devices visible. If you have to leave some valuable items behind, put them in the trunk. Also, don’t keep the title to your car in the vehicle. Lock your car, including closing your windows. Try not to leave a car running with the key in the ignition if you are not in the car.

In general, older model cars tend to be more vulnerable than newer model cars with anti-theft devices. Soft top cars, like Jeeps, are also vulnerable to having the tops slit to gain entry into the vehicle. The most stolen models of cars in the U.S. in 2013 were Honda Accords and Civics, partially due to the interchangeability of some of their parts. Several models of pickup trucks were next.

So let’s look out for each other, and our vehicles.