Local area thieves are taking advantage of unlocked vehicles with items left inside. They call this “car hopping” and “free boxing”. Thieves check areas such as parking lots, parking garages, and locations where they know the owner will be away for a defined period of time. Vehicles parked overnight are particularly at risk. They simply check the door handles and if one is unlocked, the car is relieved of spare change, glasses and sunglasses, and of course any electronics, wallets and purses they find. Credit cards are often times immediately used by the thief to purchase gift cards, goods and gas before the owner even knows they are gone.
The arrest last week of Dustin James Shannon, age 18, for Theft 1, Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Marijuana, revealed stolen items that had been taken from a vehicle where there were no visible signs of forced entry. In this case, some of the items were returned to the victim, but in most cases, it is extremely difficult for police to track items back to the owner. Thieves will often quickly trade stolen items of value for drugs or cash.
Eugene Police Crime Prevention Unit offers these tips: park your car in well-lit areas and in high traffic, high visibility locations whenever possible. Lock your vehicle and take your key. Most importantly, keep your vehicle empty of contents. Remember those charging/power cords for cell phones and GPS units. Leaving these out could lead a thief to look for them in your glove box or console, breaking into the vehicle if they have to. If you must leave something in your vehicle, place it in the trunk before arriving at your destination. Thieves often watch parking areas for people placing items in the trunk!
If you see any suspicious behavior or people walking up to random vehicles and lifting door handles, you are encouraged to call the Eugene Police non-emergency number immediately at 541-682-5111. It is also important to report all theft from vehicles to Eugene Police either on-line (http://ceapps.eugene-or.gov/epdcoplogic/) or by calling the non-emergency number.