Car break-ins can and do happen everywhere.
So far in 2012 — Jan. 1 through March 17 — 18 incidents were reported to . Whether burglars strike vehicles in residents' driveways or those parked outside local shopping malls and in workout center lots, they are most often looking for a quick smash-n-grab theft, police officers said.
Fitness center parking lots are often targeted because thieves know that when people work out, they don't take their valuables with them, Tinley Park Police Cmndr. Steve Vaccaro has said.
The best defense against burglary to your vehicle is simple: Lock your doors.
Here are a few other pointers from law enforcement officials:
- When away from home, park in well-lit, busy areas of parking lots.
- Take all valuables out of your car. Put packages and other items in the trunk. Don't leave change, CDs, cell phones and other items in plain view to tempt would-be thieves.
- If you park your car in your driveway when at home, don't leave a garage door opener or house keys in the car and don't forget to lock the doors.
- Be alert for suspicious activity in parking lots and in your neighborhood and call the police department if you observe anything out of the ordinary.
- Call 911 to report any suspicious or unusual activity. Be prepared to provide vehicle information like the color, make, model, license plate and suspect descriptions including gender, race, and clothing.
The following is a list of vehicle break-ins reported in so far this year. They coincide with the accompanying map, which plots the crime for you.
SATURDAY, MARCH 17
Sometime between 8:30 p.m. March 16 and 12 a.m. March 17, someone entered two unlocked vehicles in the 17000 block of South Oketo Avenue. Missing were two GPS units, $22 cash and an 18-inch 22 carat gold necklace with an attached gold Koran pendant.
TUESDAY, MARCH 6
Sometime between March 4 at 9 p.m. and March 5 at 9 a.m., someone broke into a vehicle parked in the 16800 block of Riverside Drive and removed a gym bag. The bag contained a wallet with a debit card and several IDs, and two bottles of prescription pain killers.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 29
A vandal dented the passenger side, rear quarter panel of a 2004 Honda Civic that was parked between 2 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the 7900 block of 163rd Court. Police said they believed the person may have been trying to gain entry.
TUESDAY, FEB. 28
- Someone shattered the front, passenger-side window of a 2012 Kia that was parked between 7 p.m. and 8:20 p.m.at LA Fitness, 18400 Convention Center Drive.
- Sometime between 9:50 a.m. and 7:15 p.m., someone shattered the front, passenger side window of a 2007 Mitsubishi that was parked in the 8100 block of West 183rd Street.
TUESDAY, FEB. 21
A burglar snagged a spare tire from a GMC pickup truck that was parked in the 6800 block of White Egret Court, police said. The theft likely occurred between 8 a.m. Feb. 20 and 8 a.m. Feb. 21.
FRIDAY, FEB. 17
Sometime between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., someone stole a wallet from an uncovered center console in a 2010 Jeep Wrangler that was parked at LA Fitness, 18400 Convention Center Drive. There was no damage to the vehicle but police noted that someone could have entered through the back window areas, which are secured with Velcro and not permanently attached to the vehicle.
SATURDAY, FEB. 4
A local man said that sometime between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m., someone stole about $450 worth of tools from his locked 2008 Chevrolet van. He said the theft occurred while he was in Portillo's, 15900 Harlem Ave., and that when he got back to his vehicle, the side door lock had been drilled out. Missing was a sawmill with a metal case and a right-angle drill.
MONDAY, JAN. 23
Sometime between 6 p.m. Jan. 21 and 9 a.m. Jan. 23, someone took four rims and four tires off a 2011 Cadillac Escalade that was parked in the west lot of Tony Rizza Cadillac, 8425 159th St. Police said the vehicle was left sitting on four 4-by-4-inch wooden blocks.
TUESDAY, JAN. 17
- A radar detector was stolen after someone smashed the window of a 2008 Dodge Caliber between 10 p.m. Jan. 16 and 7:30 a.m. Jan. 17. The vehicle was parked in a lot in the 17400 block of Ridgeland Avenue. The radar detector was valued at around $100.
- A man called the cops around 8 p.m. to report that sometime between Jan. 12 and Jan. 17, someone stole his two-axel trailer from a parking lot at 8400 185th Street. A $5,000 snow blade that was on the trailer was also missing, according to the report.
- A local woman reported a duffel bag stolen from her car, which was parked from 2 p.m. Jan. 16 to 9 a.m. Jan. 17 in the 16100 block of Brementown Drive. The thief broke out the rear window of the woman's car to get to the bag, according to the report.
MONDAY, JAN. 16
- A man returned to his parked car Monday to find shattered glass and a missing satellite radio, projector and gym bag. Inside the bag was clothing, a weight lifting belt and manta ray equipment, according to the report. The car was in a lot at Brementowne Manor, 16130 Oak Park Ave., between 7 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. The total value of the stolen items was about $3,650, the report said.
- A woman said that sometime between 3 p.m. Jan. 15 and 10:30 a.m. Jan. 16, someone broke into her 2006 Chevy Trailblazer, which was parked in the 7500 block of 160th Street. The burglar stole a cup holder filled with change and two pieces of jewelry valued at a total of about $20. Police said it looked like someone also tried to steal the stereo.
MONDAY, JAN. 9
Staff at Tutor Time, 8007 183rd St., said that sometime between Dec. 23 and Jan. 9, someone stole the catalytic converter to one of the business' buses. The case remained under investigation Wednesday.
SATURDAY, JAN. 7
A resident brought police surveillance footage to police of four burglars working together to steal a guitar and level from his car.
The man's GMC Sierra was unlocked and parked in the 16100 block of Eagle Ridge Drive at the time of the theft, which was Saturday around 7:15 a.m. Surveillance cameras around his home captured footage of four men approaching the car — two walking to the edge of the driveway to stand watch, according to the police report.
They removed the $300 acoustic guitar and the $200 Stanley smart level before leaving the area. The man's sister said she recognized one of the suspects from the neighborhood, though no charges had been filed against him as of Jan. 7.
FRIDAY, JAN. 6
Sometime between 1 p.m. Jan. 5 and 8 a.m. Jan. 6, someone stole a Garmin GPS unit from a 2001 Jeep Liberty that was parked in the 16200 block of 76th Avenue. The vehicle was left unlocked at the time of the theft and the Garmin was visible through the window.
THURSDAY, JAN. 5
said that sometime between 10:30 p.m. Jan. 4 and 8:30 a.m. Jan. 5, someone shattered the rear, driver's side window of a 2002 Pontiac Montana that was parked in the 8600 block of Brookside Glen Drive in Tinley Park.