By Dunwoody Police Officer William Furman

Entering Autos

Dunwoody residents are faced with people breaking into their automobiles on a daily basis.

The Dunwoody Police Department was formed in April 2009. Since then, we have responded to over 450 thefts in our city.

The department has noticed the rise in this criminal activity and has answered back with bike patrols of the Perimeter Mall’s parking lot and surrounding businesses and saturation of patrol officers in local parking decks during lunch hours.

1. Don’t leave anything of value in plain view.

Entering autos is a crime of opportunity. If we remove the opportunity of the crime to take place, these crimes will drastically decrease.

Take valuable items — iPods, satellite radios, GPS units, cell phones, purses, loose change, etc. — indoors, if possible.

Remove your GPS unit and windshield mount before arriving at your destination. Many times criminals are in the area before you arrive and notice victims removing their valuables and placing them out of view. This includes the power cords for these electronics as well.

Place empty purses in the trunk. Some women swap purses based on their attire and leave the empty purse in their vehicle as a convenience. To a criminal walking by, it’s an opportunity. Take the extra few seconds to place those items in the trunk before arriving at your destination.

2. Always secure your vehicle, even when at home.

Make it a practice to lock your vehicle and roll up the windows whenever the vehicle is not attended. Criminals prey on victims who leave their vehicle unlocked, even if the plan is to enter a business “only for a second.” In reality, that’s all the time thieves need.

3. Park in well-lit and high-traffic areas when possible.

Criminals don’t want to be seen breaking into vehicles. By parking in well-lit areas you reduce your chance of becoming a victim. Also park in areas where your vehicle could be seen by passersby.

Because many alarms on the market today are only activated when the doors of the vehicle are opened, you might consider the purchase of a vehicle alarm with a glass-break sensor, which works like sensors on many popular home alarms.

In 90 percent of the auto break-ins reported, the victims left purses, GPS units, laptops or other electronic devices in view of anyone walking through a parking lot.

Remember to remove empty purses and laptop bags from easily viewed areas of a vehicle. It might only cost a few dollars to replace an empty laptop bag and purse, but it could cost you hundreds to replace a vehicle’s window.

Record serial numbers and take photographs of your valuables in the event that your valuables are stolen. Many items are easily resold to pawn shops or sold at flea markets for a fraction of the retail cost. Providing serial numbers to law enforcement officials makes it easier to identify your item when it turns up at a pawn shop or it is found in a vehicle during a traffic stop.

Officer William Furman is a member of the Community Outreach Unit of the Dunwoody Police Department. He can be reached at