BRADENTON — Thomas Cummings was sitting in the Bradenton Police Department waiting to file a report about his van, which was broken into a few days ago in front of his home on 35th Avenue West.
He picked up a report of the crimes that occurred in the last few days and saw that another vehicle was broken into on 33rd Avenue Drive West, just a few streets over from where he lives in Cordova Lakes.
“I had a feeling they were hitting other streets in my neighborhood,” Cummings said Wednesday.
Car thieves are on a rampage all over Bradenton, said Sergeant L.J. Millard, a crime prevention officer for the Bradenton Police Department.
“If it’s locked, they move on, but if they see something of value inside the vehicle, they will break a window,” Millard said. “Usually, they won’t take the risk of an alarm going off if they don’t see something inside.”
Millard’s research has determined that many people whose cars are broken into have left purses and wallets, cell phones, laptop computers, GPS navigation devices and even empty bank bags right out in the open.
“The bad guy doesn’t know that a bank bag is empty,” Millard said. “They are more likely to take a calculated risk.”
Millard really gets mystified when she learns that thieves have stolen someone’s stereo along with the removable face-plate.
“When I do meetings on car safety, I ask by a show of hands how many people have brought their stereo face-plate into the meeting,” Millard said. “Usually, it’s not one. They leave them out in the car.”
Taking the simple steps of locking the car and putting everything out of sight steeply reduces the odds that your car will be hit, Millard said. And, while you are at it, keep the garage door down even while working in the yard.
“The thieves that are out there now will take anything not tied down,” Millard said. “Lawn maintenance equipment, fishing tackle, bicycles, even large items chained outside in the bed of a pickup truck. Everything needs to go inside.”
Millard goes over all this in detail during her “lunch and learn” safety programs, which are short presentations given at businesses while people eat. To arrange one, or to have her start a neighborhood watch, call her at 932-9300, extension 351.