Police chief's warning keeps falling on deaf ears
Last updated 2/19/2020 at 4:09pm | View PDF
Don’t state the obvious.
We’ve all heard that advice before — and it’s especially relevant for those of us who work in journalism.
And yet we’ve violated this rule countless times as we try — repeatedly — to convince Hinsdale residents that they should not leave their cars unlocked with the key fob inside.
Just take a look at these headlines:
“Best deterrent for car thieves: lock car doors.” That gem ran Aug. 9, 2018.
Two weeks ago we ran a similar headline: “Police advise residents to lock cars, deter thieves.”
Unfortunately many did not take the advice.
Since mid-December, Hinsdale police have contacted and chased stolen vehicles out of the community on nine different occasions during the overnight hours, according to Hinsdale Police Chief Brian King.
“There is one reason and one reason only that the offenders are in the community,” King said. “It’s because they themselves or someone they know have come to the community under the cover of darkness and have found a luxury vehicle free for the taking, unlocked with the keys inside.
“There is no shortage of offenders willing to make that trip to obtain their own free luxury vehicle. Leaving cars unlocked and fobs in your vehicle encourages crime.”
Last summer, thieves used a garage door opener they found in an unlocked car in the 200 block of North Grant Street to open the garage and steal a 2016 Land Rover, using the key fob left inside the vehicle. In surveillance video of the incident, one of the offenders appeared to be holding a handgun.
King said his department worried that a perpetrator might use a gun in order to escape if confronted by a homeowner, as happened earlier this month in Downers Grove.
“That scenario played out as a woman was shot at by one of four would-be car thieves who she interrupted attempting to steal a vehicle from her garage at 4:15 in the morning,” King said.
Back in Hinsdale, a 2018 Jaguar was stolen from a garage in the 800 block of South Lincoln Street at 3 a.m. Feb. 9. The garage door was left open and the key was inside the car — along with a purse and more than $100. Police recovered the car in Harvey.
Two days later, at 4:14 a.m. Feb. 11, Hinsdale officers on patrol observed three stolen vehicles at Madison and Morris Lane. They pursued the vehicles as they fled east on Ogden and then southbound on Interstate 294. The cars were a Dodge Durango stolen out of Countryside, a Mercedes stolen out of Lake Forest and a Jeep, stolen out of Clarendon Hills, which was abandoned on the tollway near Interstate 55. The other vehicles got away.
Burglaries to unlocked cars were subsequently reported in the 500 block of Morris Lane, the 500 block of Bonnie Brae, the 400 block of West North Avenue, the 300 block of North Garfield Avenue and the 0-100 block of Glendale.
This is a simple case of supply and demand. If Hinsdaleans continue to provide easy access to expensive items left in unlocked cars — and the keys to those cars — thieves will continue to prowl our town. If the supply dries up, those criminals will travel elsewhere to meet their demand.
“The most efficient way to combat this activity is simply getting residents to agree to lock their cars and secure their fobs,” King said.
What will it take for residents to listen to him?