|The City of Kingsport has been experiencing a surge in the crime of Motor Vehicle Theft. Having said that, it is important to note that in the vast majority of Motor Vehicle Thefts, the vehicle that was stolen had either been left unlocked with the key in the vehicle (often times with the key actually in the ignition and the vehicle running), or the suspect had been allowed easy access to the vehicle’s key in an unsecure or minimally secured location.
Auto Burglaries are also on the rise. Again, it is important to note that in the vast majority of Auto Burglaries, the vehicle had either been left unlocked, or the owner had left an item of obvious real or perceived value in plain sight inside the vehicle. To reiterate, very few cars that are being stolen or burglarized are actually being forcibly broken into. In nearly all of the cases, had the owner of the vehicle taken a few basic preventative measures, the crime could have easily been deterred.
During the 2018 calendar year, 314 vehicles were reported stolen to the Kingsport Police Department. While the vast majority of those stolen vehicles (86 percent) have already been successfully recovered, 43 still remain missing. During the same time period, 504 vehicles were burglarized in Kingsport.
So far this year in 2019 to date, 34 vehicles have been reported stolen to the Kingsport Police Department. Again, the vast majority of these stolen vehicles (79 percent) have already been successfully recovered; however, 7 vehicles still remain missing. During the same time period, 36 vehicles have been burglarized in Kingsport.
This particular problem is by no means unique to Kingsport. When sharing crime intelligence information with other agencies, feedback indicates that similar trends are being experienced in other jurisdictions.
K.P.D. has prioritized investigating and preventing these types of crimes, but we are asking for some additional help from the public. To that end, the good news is that the occurrence of these two crimes can easily be lessened or even prevented altogether by utilizing the following common sense measures:
1) Never leave your vehicle unlocked while unattended.
Your vehicle was designed with locking doors for a very good reason. It should be locked at all times. It should be locked while you are driving it, and it should be locked while it is parked and unoccupied. The only time that it should ever be unlocked is if you are getting into it or out of it, or if it is parked inside a securely closed and locked garage.
2) Never leave the key inside your parked and unoccupied vehicle.
Leaving the key inside your parked and unoccupied vehicle is asking for trouble. It allows undeterred access to the vehicle by criminals. It also allows curious children to potentially get behind the wheel, which could obviously lead to tragic results.
3) Never leave your car key in an unsecure location.
Even if your key is not actually inside the vehicle, it is important to make sure that it is stored securely and cannot be easily accessed.
Some vehicles were locked; however, they were stolen anyway after the key was first stolen.
4) Never leave your vehicle running unless you are actually in it.
The only thing worse than leaving your key in your vehicle is leaving the key in the ignition with the engine running. Again, it allows undeterred access to the vehicle by criminals, and it also allows curious children to potentially get behind the wheel, which could obviously lead to tragic results.
Several vehicles have been stolen while they were left running, unlocked, and unoccupied while they were defrosting in the morning.
Several vehicles have been stolen while they were left running, unlocked, and unoccupied while the owner made a brief visit into a convenience store or gas station.
5) Never leave items of real or perceived value in plain sight inside your vehicle.
Other than leaving your vehicle unlocked, the best way to get it broken into is to leave something valuable inside of it. Purses, backpacks, duffle/tote bags, electronics, medications, firearms, money, etc. should never be left inside your vehicle, especially not in plain view. And remember, it doesn’t even have to be valuable to you as long as it appears potentially valuable to a criminal peeking into a window.