Prowlers in the parking lot

Updated: 12/01/2010 10:37 pm | Published: 12/01/2010 6:11 pm

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC 4 News) – In parking lots everywhere, outside malls and shopping centers and big box stores you’ll find them – cars, trucks, minivans and SUVs – full of things that practically invite thieves to break in.

“That’s something a crook might be looking for," says West Valley City Police Officer Tyler Longman. This cop is on the prowl, playing the role of the thief, looking for opportunities to make an easy haul.

A white power chord, connected to something hidden in the jockey box of a small sedan catches his attention. It would be an enticement for a would-be crook, he says. “There might be a high dollar item that I want to grab real quick."

Officer Longman would find plenty of opportunity in this parking lot on this day.
“There’s some Christmas paper or something in there," he mumbles as he presses his nose against the darkened window of an SUV.

Gift wrapping paper is a signal to thieves there’s something valuable inside. And inside this pickup truck, he finds a jackpot. The calling card is six pair of brand name sunglasses, perched on the dashboard, as if on display at a store inside the mall. Officer Longman says they may be worth $500.

“Is this window worth breaking?" I ask. “Certainly,” he says. “We’re far enough away from the mall. The vehicle’s big enough that it’ll block the view of me. I can break in there in a matter of seconds, reach in there, and off I go."

Officer Longman says once the loot is spotted, grabbing it is easy.

“How quickly can a thief get in this vehicle?" I ask. "In a matter of seconds,” he says. “They’ll check the door to see if it’ll open. If it doesn’t open, they’ll smash the window and be in and out in twenty seconds."

It would be easier still to steal from the next vehicle we approach – a tan colored sedan with a black travel or computer bag in the back seat, along with an expensive looking parka. Officer Longman gives the door knob a quick tug. The door swings open.
“That’s how easy it is for a thief to take the contents of this car,” he says.

Officer Longman says looking at this parking lot through the eyes of a thief, it is clear holiday shoppers need to learn to eliminate opportunities for criminals.

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