News: Spare Change, Cell Phones Lure Thieves

It's that time of year again, when the cell phones and spare change left inside cars start to disappear. The Cincinnati Police Division is gearing up for another seasonal fight against thefts from

It's that time of year again, when the cell phones and spare change left inside cars start to disappear. The Cincinnati Police Division is gearing up for another seasonal fight against thefts from automobiles.

"It's getting ridiculous," said Lt. Ray Ruberg of the division's public information office. "During the summer, these kind of thefts will increase. Right now, they will increase because the kids are out of school."

Ruberg said last year that there were 2,051 thefts from automobiles reported to Cincinnati Police Division.

In Cincinnati, thefts from cars account for 36 percent of all part one crimes — which include homicides, rapes, robbery, assaults, larceny and burglaries — that happened in the last year, he said.

"Breaking into cars is easy to do," Ruberg said. "You don't have to be a professional thief."

On June 15, for example, there were five thefts from cars parked inside garages near Fountain Square.

The thieves, Ruberg said, are not only after expensive laptop computers or cellular telephones.

"Spare change is oftentimes a reason for a thief to break into a car," Ruberg said. "That doesn't seem very serious until people realize that it could cost hundreds of dollars to fix a broken window."

Another reason for the rise of car break-ins could be the popularity and low price of cell phones, he said.

"Most cell phones are inexpensive or don't cost anything, and only cost money depending on calls that are made, so people don't place a high value on them," Ruberg said. "People don't really think twice about leaving them in the car, but the damage done to the car can be more than what is taken."

Ruberg suggests taking all "valuable" items out of the car or keeping them out of sight.

Although this is an obvious safety tip, Ruberg said, many times people forget or do not take the time to secure items properly.

For example, if a purse is hidden under the seat, make sure the strap is not sticking out or put it in the trunk. If there is change left in the cup holder, put it in the ash tray were it will be hidden, he said.

"If there are two cars parked next to one another, and one is totally clean and the other has a cell phone in plain view, which one do you think they will go after?," Ruberg asked.

Do not always assume that a car alarm or a parking garage will keep thieves at bay.

"Unless they can see something worthwhile in there, an alarm will help," he said. "Don't allow that or parking in a garage to let your guard down. You should always secure your items."

Items that are most often snatched out of cars are cell phones, computers, radar detectors, purses, briefcases and clothes, Ruberg said. ©

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