Attention Holiday Shoppers: H.E.A.T. Tips to Protect You and Your Vehicle
LIVONIA, Mich., Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — The race is on! With the holiday season now in full swing, department stores, malls and downtown streets are packed with shoppers looking for great gifts and last-minute deals. Unfortunately, it’s that hustle and bustle of long lists and large crowds that opportunistic criminals are counting on to distract holiday shoppers and make them easy targets for vehicle break-ins, carjacking and other auto theft-related crimes.
According to Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (H.E.A.T.), law enforcement agencies report an increased number of auto break-ins during the holiday season. H.E.A.T. is Michigan’s statewide auto theft prevention program that coordinates citizen action with law enforcement agencies through a confidential toll-free tip line (1.800.242.HEAT) and website (1800242HEAT.com).
“The holidays are a joyous time of year filled with family gatherings and gift giving,” said Terri Miller, director of H.E.A.T. “But, with overflowing parking lots and vehicles filled to the brim with purchases, the holidays are also a dream for car thieves.”
The following tips from H.E.A.T. will help you to be more careful and prepared while shopping this holiday season.
- Stay alert and watchful. While walking to your car, take a moment to observe your surroundings. Talking or texting on cell phones, digging for keys or juggling multiple packages can be a distraction, all of which make you an easy target.
- Park in well-lit, high-traffic areas. Try to avoid shopping alone after dark. If possible, avoid parking near objects that block your view of the surrounding area such as dumpsters, bushes, large vans or trucks.
- Place valuables and purchases in the trunk or out of view. Before leaving your car, make sure anything of value is locked in the trunk or out of sight.
- Remember where your car is parked. Walk directly to your car and do not spend unnecessary time wandering around the parking lot. Walk confidently and with purpose.
- Move your car. If you return to your car in the middle of a shopping trip, move to another area of the parking lot, even if it means giving up a prime spot. This will deter a thief who may have been watching you unload your purchases and then return to shop.
- If threatened by a carjacker, GIVE UP THE CAR. DON’T RESIST OR ARGUE. A life is more important than any vehicle, and most carjackings involve a weapon.
- If you witness an auto theft or carjacking, call the police immediately. If you have any information regarding auto theft, insurance fraud or carjacking, call the 24/7 H.E.A.T. tip reward line at 1-800-242-H.E.A.T.
H.E.A.T. works with Michigan law enforcement agencies to follow-up on tips. Tipsters are awarded up to $1,000 if the tip leads to the arrest and prosecution of a suspected car thief or a person suspected of auto theft-related insurance fraud. Rewards of up to $10,000 are issued if a tip results in the arrest and binding over for trial of a suspected theft ring or chop shop operators. H.E.A.T. rewards up to $2,000 for information leading to the issuance of a warrant for a carjacking suspect. The H.E.A.T. tip line is monitored by the Michigan State Police and funded by Michigan’s auto insurance companies.
SOURCE Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (H.E.A.T.)