Weekday mornings can be tough.
For many, there’s a struggle to get out of bed, grab a shower and get out the door to make it to work on time.
Those mornings get exponentially worse if your car is missing.
And that’s something that occurred a number of times last year. The Bakersfield Police Department says auto thefts within the city in 2018 numbered 2,762.
By comparison, there were 2,777 thefts in 2017, and 2016 saw that category reach 3,048 thefts.
With multiple thefts occurring a day, Bakersfield police spokesman Sgt. Nathan McCauley urged residents not to make it easy for them. One easy prevention method: Don’t leave keys in the ignition.
A car left running while unattended is hard for a thief to pass up. It can be tempting for a motorist to start their vehicle and let it warm up a few minutes while waiting indoors during the winter months, but the better option is to bundle up and get going as soon as the car’s started.
Park in well-lit areas, McCauley said, and communicate with your neighbors. Tell them to report if they see a stranger trying to get into your vehicle, and offer to do the same for them. Cameras and motion detectors also are strong deterrents, he said.
Officer Robert Rodriguez, spokesman for the Bakersfield area office of the California Highway Patrol, has said Bakersfield is an enticing place for car thieves because they can steal a vehicle then get on one of the major highways and quickly travel to Kings, Fresno or Tulare counties.
From his experience working at the BPD the past 12 years, McCauley said he’s learned it’s difficult to recover a stolen vehicle unless law enforcement is contacted while the crime is in progress or shortly afterward.
“They can cover a lot of ground in a little bit of time,” he said of car thieves. “We have a very limited window.”
McCauley said it’s important for people to have pertinent information, such as a driver’s license, immediately available. The quicker police get that type of information, the better chance of a recovery.
The BPD also offered the following theft prevention tips:
● Don’t leave valuables in your car, especially not in plain sight. Even spare change in a cup holder or cheap sunglasses could entice a thief.
● Choosing parking spots where there is lots of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.
● Lock all a vehicle’s doors, even if expecting to be away for only a brief while. Don’t leave windows cracked open.
● Set alarms or anti-theft devices.