Holiday car-prowling prevention tips



​​SEATTLE – Always roll up windows and double check that doors are locked. Don't make it easy for a casual thief to take your possessions or gifts.

Park in a well-lit area, and use parking lots frequented by others. A prowl attempt is more likely in darkened or secluded areas. Avoid parking behind fences or hedges.

Put all valuables and gifts in your trunk. If that's not possible, conceal gifts and other valuables with a blanket. A car prowler will almost always look inside a car for valuables before risking a break-in, and keeping valuables out of sight reduces your risk.

After opening an automatic gate to underground parking, wait for the gate to close before you park. Watch out for thieves waiting to slip in behind you.

Avoid parking in attended lots. They're a major source of copied keys, which can be used later to steal your vehicle.

If you must park in an attended lot, leave only a concierge key with the attendant. Keep valuables and all materials that could be used for identity theft, vehicle theft, or burglarizing your residence in a locked area that cannot be opened with the concierge key. Again, hide gifts and valuables under cover in your trunk.

Try not to unload gifts in your car and then leave it unattended in the same parking spot. Car prowlers might be on the lookout for shoppers traveling back and forth from stores to unload gifts.

If you don't park in a secure garage at home, don't leave gifts in cars overnight to keep them secret. Plan some way to move them inside the home undetected, or have your gifts wrapped before you bring them home.

Never leave your car running unattended. Vehicles are commonly stolen at ATMs, convenience stores, and self-serve gas stations.

If your car is broken into:

Inventory missing articles for later use with the police or an insurance claim.

Call the police and file a report. Consider whether surveillance cameras are present that could identify the individual or individuals involved. Even if there's little chance of catching the suspect, alerting the police can help prevent somebody else's car from being prowled.