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Local News

Will County authorities encourage public to keep car doors locked, valuables hidden

Burglars rove from car to car to see if they’re unlocked

For New Lenox Deputy Police Chief Louis Alessandrini, the lessons for preventing car burglaries are obvious, but they bear repeating: Lock the doors and keep valuables out of sight.

New Lenox police still are investigating a case from June 19 where a dozen burglaries occurred in a single day, and they suspect the culprits were involved in burglaries in surrounding towns about the same time.

People lost laptop computers, wallets, credit cards, a passport and a handgun in the incidents. Alessandrini said the gun hasn’t yet been recovered. In his about 23 years in law enforcement, he’s seen about 85 percent to 90 percent of burglaries happen because cars are unlocked.

So, the No. 1 advice he offers?

“Lock your car, hide all your valuables. ... If the door is locked and no valuables are in sight, they’re moving on to the next car,” Alessandrini said.

People also can try to park their vehicles in well-lit areas and keep their garage door openers hidden, he said.

The number of car burglaries doesn’t appear to have increased over the years, but they normally occur more frequently during the summer, Alessandrini said.

Since the beginning of the year, the village had 36 car burglaries and more than a dozen of them were from the June 19 burglary spree, he said.

In Joliet, there have been
41 reported incidents in the past 30 days, Joliet Deputy Police Chief Ed Gregory said in an email. The number of car burglaries is at a historic low in the city, down 37 percent from July 2017, he said.

In June, several unlocked cars were burglarized in the Walkers Grove and Heritage Meadows subdivisions in Plainfield.

Gregory said the crimes occur because owners leave valuables visible in their car.

“Often, owners are [an] easy target, because they leave valuables visible with the vehicle doors unlocked,” he said.

The types of offenders vary, but Alessandrini said he’s observed two prevalent categories: youths who randomly check to see if a car is unlocked so they can rummage for loose change or wallets, and roving crews who target the south suburbs.

“It’s cases where guys are coming from Chicago, from Harvey, from Robbins and they’re targeting this area, and then they’re hitting the other jurisdictions on their way out,” Alessandrini said.

Gregory said Joliet police have arrested youths and teenagers who “car surf” by pulling on random car door handles to see if they have been left unlocked.

Sometimes the burglaries don’t happen from someone checking to see if the door is unlocked or smashing the window. People who forget to lock their locker at fitness centers and leave their car keys inside of them can become victims, Alessandrini said.

Recovery of stolen items is not always successful, but if a laptop, iPhone or other product with a serial number has been stolen, the police can use a database to track them, Alessandrini said. Police patrol neighborhoods with an eye out for suspicious activity, but they also heavily rely on the public to report incidents, he said.

When burglars steal valuables from cars, they sometimes sell them for quick cash at pawnshops or online on websites such as eBay, letgo or
Craigslist, Plainfield police Sgt. Mike Fisher said.

“They can advertise a lot of these products with no receipts, no questions asked,” Fisher said.

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