Ask a sheriff: What is the Theft from Auto Prevention Program?

A:  The Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office will begin the “Theft from Auto Prevention Program” this week to identify potential theft from auto victims and to help residents be proactive to decrease their probability for becoming a crime victim. This not only focuses on property theft, but also to deter identity theft and fraud due to the fact that purses, wallets, electronic devices with personal information, and various documents are sometimes stolen from a vehicle and can be used for criminal means.

Beginning in the city of Zimmerman, reserve volunteer sheriff deputies will visit area parking lots and complete a survey of unattended vehicles in the lot to determine the probability of that vehicle and its contents to be targeted by thieves. Some of the criteria that will be reviewed include:

•Are valuables openly displayed?

•Is the vehicle locked or have windows open?

•Where is the vehicle parked? Is it in a hard-to-observe location or in a poorly lit area?

If an area for improvement is identified, this will be noted on the survey and left with the vehicle to inform the driver of the results along with providing prevention tips so that they do not become a victim in the future. If there are no factors that could identify an increased potential to becoming a theft from auto victim, this will be indicated as well.

Within the brochure, a window cling is provided to display as a reminder to take the two seconds to check the vehicle for possible “car shopping items.” In addition, the Sheriff’s Office will have these window clings available at other locations throughout the county.

The Sheriff’s Office is expecting that this program will decrease thefts from autos throughout the county. It is also a great reminder to citizens that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Two seconds to scan the interior of your vehicle and decrease the likelihood of a theft, compared to the hours in dealing with a theft report, broken windows on vehicles, replacement issues of items taken, etc. — Joel Brott, Sherburne County sheriff