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Summertime — and the stealing is easy

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 9, 2016


BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP — It’s a great day every spring when it’s finally warm enough to take a drive around town with the windows down.

It’s considerably less great, though, when you realize later that you left that window down and someone snatched your purse off the passenger seat while you were away.

Every year, as temperatures climb, so do reports of larcenies from vehicles, according to Cmdr. Scott Grewe, of the Birmingham Police Department. And in almost all of those cases, the crime was less a smash-and-grab and more a crime of opportunity.

“It’s almost always unlocked cars,” he explained. “It’s frustrating, because most of it is kids trying car doors, and when it’s unlocked they take change or a wallet or a laptop. Of the (suspects) we’ve caught, it’s almost always young people doing that kind of stuff.”

Grewe said that during 2015, larceny from vehicle reports from April through August were nearly 50 percent higher than from January to April of that same year. Much like anyone else, the theory is that criminals prefer working in warmer weather.

“The kids are out of school too,” Grewe noted.

Sgt. John Weise, of the Bloomfield Township Police Department, said he doesn’t necessarily have statistics to prove a jump in larceny from auto reports during the spring and summer months, but it stands to reason.

“These things have no real rhyme or reason. They go in streaks just like anything else. (The suspects) go until they get caught, which they always do,” Weise said. “As for the weather, just as people spend more time outside when it’s warm, so do criminals. With that being said, we focus our patrols more in subdivisions, parking lots and apartment complexes in the summer.”

The bad news is that when items are stolen from a vehicle, it’s rare that they’re ever recovered, Grewe said. But the good news is it’s easy to prevent such thefts in the first place — just lock those car doors, he said.

“Sometimes we’ll find a purse down the street with a wallet and ID still inside and the cash is missing. But if it’s change or a laptop, those are usually gone,” he said. “But lock your doors, and don’t leave anything in view. Don’t give anyone incentive to try to get into the car. If they see a purse on the front seat, they’ll try to get in to take it.”

Weise also recommends that homeowners, when they can, install motion lights in the area where vehicles are parked for the night.

That’s because crimes of opportunity aren’t limited to public parking areas. Incidents can happen on private property too — just last month, at least three residents in Birmingham reported items stolen from their vehicles during the night while the vehicles were parked in their own driveways. The reports came in between April 9 and 16 from residents on Abbey, Ann and Worth.

“We haven’t had anything crazy so far, but we’ll see what happens. I bet about 90 percent of the reports we get (of larceny from auto) wouldn’t happen if people would just lock their car doors,” said Grewe.