Around 85 % of car burglaries happen to unlocked cars, according to police.
Vehicle burglaries. That was what stood out the most to Port Orange Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi when he first started his current position around 18 months ago.
What was troubling about these reports was that around 85 % of the break-ins happened to unlocked cars. It was this fact that propelled Grimaldi and the rest of the department to start a campaign to make people more aware of keeping their cars locked and taking their belongings out.
The department has since been trying to educate the public through social media, discussing the issue with local organizations and leaving a kind of report card letting people know if their car is unlocked or valuables are inside.
A sign letting residents know about the importance of locking vehicles and removing items from inside. Image courtesy of the Port Orange Police Department.
When Grimaldi previously looked into Port Orange’s crime rate he found there were 320 reports of vehicle theft in 2015 and 284 reports in 2016. This year so far, there have been around 124 car burglaries.
“We decided we needed to do something,” Grimaldi said. “Those are high numbers for us and we want to address those.”
As part of the initiative to reduce car burglaries, the department has reached out to local entities such of the Homeowner’s Association and the Pavilion shopping center to inform them about what has been happening.
Police officers also leave what Grimaldi calls a “report card”—a small notice left on the car where three boxes can be checked off depending on whether valuables were left in the car or if it was locked or not.
According to Port Orange Police Department Public Information Officer Evan Doyle, the initiative, which began about a year and half ago, has evolved to include radio and television interviews in addition to water bill mailers, bumpers stickers, putting up signs and door hangers.
Doyle noted the majority of the burglaries take place in neighborhoods and apartment complexes, usually during the night.
As for how they expect to proceed in the future, Grimaldi said he plans to reevaluate the issue closer to the end of the year and see if any adjustments need to be made.
“We’re making progress but it’s slow progress,” Grimaldi said. “We only have so many resources, it’s complicated but it’s certainly something I think we can be successful in.”
The Port Orange Observer hits driveways July 13. Send story ideas to Nichole Osinski at [email protected].