PALMDALE – Auto thefts are up in the Antelope Valley compared to this time last year, authorities said Friday.
Last week alone, 13 vehicles were reported stolen in Lancaster and four vehicles were reported stolen in Palmdale, according to Crimemapping.com.
Cold weather is prime time for car thieves, so the numbers may climb even higher in the coming months, according to Lt. Cory Kennedy of the Palmdale Sheriff Station.
“The people who are taking these cars are generally younger, and it’s crimes of opportunity,” Kennedy said. “The message we want to send is: ‘don’t make it easy for them.’”
The Palmdale Sheriff Station recommends the following tips to minimize your chances of becoming a victim of auto theft:
Never leave your car unattended with the motor running. While this may seem like common sense to many, Kennedy said residents tend to get careless during the winter months.
“People get up in the morning and they start their car to warm it up, and they leave their cars running,” Kennedy said. “Cars get stolen that way. That happens a lot more than people think.”
To avoid becoming a quick and easy target for car thieves, you should never leave your keys in the ignition when you are away, even for just a minute, Kennedy said. A Lancaster woman learned that lesson the hard way last week. The woman left her car running to check on a friend, and the car was stolen with the woman’s baby in the back seat. Luckily the car was quickly recovered and the child was found unharmed. Read more here.
Older Hondas are popular among car thieves. “The earlier year Hondas – late ‘80s and ‘90s – for some reason have become a vehicle of choice for car thieves,” Kennedy said, “Probably because of the ability to start them easily without a key.”
“If you own one of those cars, it would be highly suggested that you find a secondary locking device,” Kennedy added. “If a guy is looking to steal your Honda, and you’ve got something like The Club on your steering wheel, chances are they’re going to move on to something else.”
Beware of thieves stealing cars on test drives. Crooks are inquiring about cars for sale, taking the cars for test drives and never returning, Kennedy said. He said there were three recent incidents where local residents advertised vehicles for sale on Craigslist only to have the vehicles stolen during test drives.
“Don’t just trust somebody when you’re letting them test drive your car,” Kennedy said. “If you’re going to let someone test drive your car, make sure that you either go with them, or you get their driver’s license information or enough information to where they’re going to want to bring the car back.”
Other precautionary measures include always closing and locking all windows and doors when you park; parking in well-lit areas; keeping your vehicle in your garage, if possible; never leaving valuables in your vehicle, especially where they can be seen; and never leaving spare keys inside or near your vehicle.
For more information on what you can do to prevent auto theft, contact the Palmdale Sheriff Station at 661-272-2400.