Police: ‘Tis the season for thievin’

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There’s a new prevention effort underway in Westerville and it has a catchy slogan.

“We had a theme – Tis the Season for Thievin – and people actually remember that,” says Assistant Police Chief Anthony Wilson.

“So, you’ll go into malls, stores, we had a shop with a cop and we heard people saying, ‘Tis the season for thieving, I gotta remember to lock my car door,’ so it’s working,” he adds.

Wilson says members of the Community Services Bureau met before the holidays and developed a strategy involving a public relations campaign to remind potential victims of the need to secure their valuables and lock their vehicles.

Year to year statistics show car break-ins are trending downward with a drop of 16-20%.

The new strategy involves messages on well-placed road signs at key intersections in Westerville with the highest traffic volume. Local businesses in Westerville are also passing out flyers to remind customers to lock up their cars.

Asst. Chief Wilson says most of the break-ins involves cars that are unlocked.

“There were guns being stolen out of cars, there were purses, things like that,” Wilson says. He adds that criminals steal garage door openers and registration information so they can steal even more later.

“They’ll come back later and try to get into the house and take stuff,” Wilson warns.

The holiday prevention campaign is in partnership with Westerville City's Service Department, WARM, Community Affairs, local media, and other local establishments. The goal is to save losing gifts to the holiday Grinch.

After the holidays, Westerville police will transition to an ongoing campaign called HABIT. It stands for Halt Auto Break Ins Together. If officers on patrol locate any vehicles that are unlocked or have visible property, the vehicle's owner is contacted by letter stressing the importance of securing their vehicle to prevent theft.