The MPD would like to raise the public's awareness about a common crime tactic perpetrated by thieves. These thieves target unsuspecting vehicle owners when they are pumping gas or paying the tab in the station. Purses and other valuables, which are often visible or easily accessible from passenger side of a vehicle, are the main targets. To simplify things for the thief, the vehicle is often left unlocked. The thefts normally take place when the victim is most distracted – when he or she is pumping gas or going into the station to pay for a purchase. A suspect vehicle will drive up next to the victim’s auto, quickly open the unlocked door, and grab any easily-accessible items. Then they will just as quickly drive off. It happens in a matter of seconds.
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These sorts of thefts can be prevented when the appropriate precautions are taken. Below are some helpful tips on how to avoid becoming a victim:
- Pick stations that are well-lit and have video-surveillance cameras at the pump.
- Make a list of favorite gas stations along your regular travel routes. Stations near police departments and state police barracks are good choices.
- Always remove your keys and lock the car doors while you are pumping gas. If you sense danger and you have a panic button on your car keys, keep your hands on the panic button until help arrives.
- Keep valuables out of sight in your vehicle and lock the doors, even if you are going inside for just a moment.
- Pick your pump with care. It might be worthwhile to wait for the pump nearest to the attendant or building.
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Don’t be distracted by your cell phone.