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As more and more people start their holiday shopping, vehicle safety tips can prevent a car break-in.

PMG FILE PHOTO - St. Helens police will do the best they can to prevent car break-ins. It's coming up on a year since St. Helens police had to deal with a string of car break-ins.

Occurring the weekend of Nov. 27, 2021, police were faced with reported thefts in the Elk Meadows neighborhood, the Parkwood neighborhood, Crestwood Village, the Noble Road neighborhood and the Charming Way neighborhood.

Chief Brian Greenway said at the time that individuals entered over 50 vehicles. Items taken included laptops, credit cards and loaded firearms.

Fortunately, police are not (at press time) reporting a similar crime outbreak, but police are taking the opportunity to inform citizens about car safety, especially as we enter that busy holiday season.

St. Helens police Lt. Joe Hogue is cautioning, "We receive reports of car break-ins year round, and this type of theft is not limited to a particular holiday or season. Generally, several cars in a neighborhood or on a street will all be targeted as the suspect goes from vehicle to vehicle to check for unlocked doors and valuables."

And we are entering a season where these valuables could be Christmas gifts left in an unattended car.

In addition to keeping your car locked at all times, Hogue tells the Spotlight, "Keep valuable items and shopping bags with you if you can. If you must leave items behind in your vehicle, make sure they are kept out of sight by either securing them in the trunk, tucking them under seats, or covering them with a blanket or coat."

Also, never leave your keys, debit or credit cards, phones or money in your vehicle.

"The simple act of locking your vehicle vastly reduces the chance of your vehicle being searched by a would-be thief, and it only takes you a second to do," Hogue said.

In the age of Amazon, with more people ordering gifts online, that package left at your front door can be an easy target for thieves.

Hogue suggests several steps you can take to make sure no one grabs your gift and runs away.

Use delivery alerts and track your packages, so you can make sure someone is home when a package is delivered.

Collect packages as soon as possible.

You can also check to see if your package can be delivered to a pickup location, a Post Office box, or your workplace.

Get to know your neighbors. A trusted neighbor may be able to hold the package for you. Neighbors can work together to watch out for suspicious activity.

Install home security cameras and include special delivery instructions.

"St. Helens Police Department has had success in identifying a suspect when a citizen is able to provide us with security camera footage," Hogue said, adding that police in St. Helens would do their best to prevent break-ins and thefts.

"We do our best to actively patrol neighborhoods when we are able to, but we do not have the extra staffing or budget to call more officers in during the holiday season and specifically assign them to neighborhood patrols only," he said. "Calls for service are our first priority."


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