Southington police are warning people to lock their cars while pumping gas or going inside gas stations after several purses and backpacks were stolen from vehicles in the last week.
Police said they have received reports of six thefts at local gas stations over the past week and the unoccupied vehicles were parked and unlocked as the owners pumped gas or shopped inside.
Purses and backpacks that were in plain view inside of the vehicles were taken and the thieves quickly got back into their vehicles and left, police said.
Police are urging residents to lock their vehicles whenever they are left unoccupied.
When you are at a gas station, remove your keys and lock your vehicle when you get out to pump gas or go inside, police warn.
If you carry a purse or bag, make sure it’s not in plain view or readily accessible.
If anyone has any information or videos from any motor vehicle burglaries or thefts, police ask that you share them with the Southington Police Department Auto Theft Task Force by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police also urge people to lock their doors even if you are parked in front of your house, in your driveway or inside your garage. They said criminals like to walk down the street and see if a car is unlocked. If it is, they open the door and take whatever is visible and move on to the next target.
Where the Southington Thefts from Vehicles Happened
Southington police said someone in a silver Audi Q5 that had been stolen out of Wolcott took the victim’s purse from a car at the Mobil at 1896 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike at 3:47 p.m. on Sept. 6 as the victim was pumping gas.
The suspects left at a high rate of speed. Police said the vehicle was seized and processed.
On Sept. 7, a victim was pumping gas at 10 a.m. at the Sunoco Gas Station at 398 Main St. and her purse was stolen out the passenger side of the vehicle.
On Sept. 8, a victim was inside Salsa’s Southwest Grill at 4:51 p.m. when someone entered the vehicle and removed a purse.
Police said they have not identified a suspect.
On Sept. 10, a purse was stolen from a vehicle at the T/A Travel Center on Meriden-Waterbury Road at 8:18 p.m. while the vehicle owner was pumping gas.
Police said a vehicle pulled up on the opposite side of the vehicle and someone in that car stole her purse.
A purse was stolen at 11:04 a.m. Sunday at the Mobil at 1896 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike while the victim was pumping gas, police said.
They said a male got out of a white BMW SUV, entered the passenger side of the vehicle and stole the purse.
At 11:20 a.m. Sunday, a black diaper bag was stolen from the front passenger seat while the victim was pumping gas at the Food Bag at 960 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike.
Police said the description was the same as the suspect in the theft moments earlier
Earlier this month, at 8:06 p.m. on Sept. 4, theft was a theft from a vehicle at Food Bag at 960 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike. Police said the suspect vehicle was also seized and processed.
Police offer the following tips:
Lock Your Doors
Most car break-ins and thefts are from unlocked cars. Even if you are parked in front of your house, in your driveway or inside your garage, lock your doors. Criminals like to walk down the street and see if a car is unlocked, if it is they open the door and take whatever is visible and move on to the next target. However, if the door is locked, they are more likely to move on.
Secure Your Vehicle
Roll your car windows up all the way and engage the car alarm, but do not depend on it as the only way to deter a thief. A car thief can break into your car and be out in about 30 seconds, fast enough that an alarm doesn't scare most of them away.
Keep Your Vehicle Tidy
Thieves like to window shop! Avoid leaving anything visible in the car. Almost any item that's visible from the outside - even if you think it is worthless - could be seen as valuable to a thief.
Your spare change, sunglasses, even an empty bag (a thief may think there is something inside the bag) could be valuable in the mind of a thief.
Conceal All Proof
Stow your electronics and accessories well out of sight, or just take it along with you. The proof alone might be enough to pique the interest of thieves, including items such as power cords, adapters, and GPS windshield suction-cup mounts. If you remove the suction cup, make sure to wipe the ring off the windshield; it's a dead giveaway that you own a GPS.
Stash Before You Park
Get in the habit of putting items you want hidden in the trunk of your car before you arrive at your destination. Thieves will linger in busy parking lots looking for you to stash your valuable items.
- Park in a busy, well-lit area and avoid concealment from larger vehicles, fences, or foliage.
- Avoid parking in isolated and poorly-lit areas.
What to Do If You Witness a Theft:
If you witness a break-in or theft in progress, police ask that you call 911 immediately and provide the 911 dispatcher with as much information as possible, such as:
- Location - Provide an address, block number, or specific location in a parking lot.
- Description of the suspect - Provide as much information as you can, i.e. sex, race, age, height, weight, hair color and length, color and length of facial hair, colors and style of clothing, and identifying marks such as tattoos and piercings.
- Direction - If the suspect flees, give the direction of travel. If they flee on a bicycle or in a vehicle, describe the color, make, model, and license plate number, if it is safe to do so!