With the recent publication of the Virginia State Police’s annual “Crime in Virginia” report, we saw some bright spots and some dark corners as well.
Crime in Loudoun for 2011 was down overall, while Leesburg saw a slight increase.
The most disturbing part of these statistics were the crimes that were likely preventable with the simple click of a button or turn of a lock.
For most residents, locking your car or home should seem like a relativity simple task, almost second-nature if you will.
But according to Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman and Leesburg Police Chief Joseph Price, it’s not.
Deputies and police officers are constantly pounding the pavement, meeting with residents and homeowner’s associations, sending out press releases and utilizing social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to remind us of this task.
It’s a lot of work.
But despite these educational campaigns, residents are still not taking their advice.
In Loudoun County in 2011 more residents were seeing their property stolen, according to the Virginia State Police report, although the number of burglaries dipped 12 percent from 2010. Auto theft increased 6 percent and larceny climbed 1.5 percent.
In Leesburg, the number of burglaries and larcenies were down 23 and 12 percent, respectively, but auto theft did increase by 52 percent.
Price contributed about 80 percent of the larcenies the department investigates to owners leaving their vehicles or homes unlocked.
Unlocked vehicles are prime targets for thieves. The act is pretty simple.
A potential criminal only has to walk through a neighborhood late at night and continue to pull at car door handles until one opens.
The problem has left authorities scratching their heads as to why residents refuse the simple preventative task.
Not only is it causing more work for our men and women in uniform, but it’s taking away police coverage from other areas that may need it.
Now, the Leesburg Police Department is trying out a new tactic to remind residents to either lock their vehicles, hide their belongings or take them with them – shock and awe and a little bit of humor.
They’ve posted three clips on YouTube that show just how fast someone can steal your belongings from your car.
One of the videos on the Leesburg Police Department’s YouTube channel shows Master Police Officer Christopher Tidmore answering the public’s question on whether valuables left in plain sight in an unlocked vehicle are safe. Within seconds, a man runs up with a bat, smashes in the window and runs away with a wallet.
Tidmore simply looks into the camera and says “Any questions?”
As concerned citizens of Loudoun County, we also are asking the public to remember to lock their vehicles, no matter how safe you believe your neighborhood to be.
It only takes seconds for a thief to steal your belongings, but you’re creating hours of unnecessary work for our uniformed officers – and raising taxes for your neighbors.
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