Are you making the grade when it comes to making yourself an easy target for thieves? Houston police officers are out and about around the city leaving "report cards" based on if valuables are visible in parked vehicles.
Some shoppers are a bit alarmed when they come out of the store or restaurant finding a "pass" or "fail" card on their vehicle, courtesy the Houston Police Department, but you know what’s even more alarming? Discovering a busted window thanks to thieves helping themselves to your belongings.
Typcially when a police officer slips something underneath your windshield wiper, you wish they hadn’t, but this isn’t a ticket. Instead it is a means to keep you safe.
"That’s a good idea,” says one Houston resident with a smile. The Houston Police Department crime prevention crew that FOX 26 News followed is part of the Differential Response Team trying to keep people in Houston from leaving valuables visible in parked vehicles.
"We go to a lot of areas where there are a lot of break ins,” explains HPD Officer Melissa Lopez.
"Burglary of a motor vehicle is a crime of opportunity," adds Sgt. Roger Nguyen. "In the City of Houston, that’s the biggest non-violent crime.”
FOX 26 caught up with the officers who weren’t responding to a car break in call but rather trying to keep the crime from happening. They were looking into the windows of parked cars and leaving a "pass" or "fail" note for the driver. They’re grading how good residents are at keeping crooks from wanting to get inside.
"What surprises me is there are a lot of unlocked doors," says Officer Lopez. "I see a lot of purses, a lot of backpacks, gym bags."
"They smash and grab and they don’t even care if they’re on camera," explains Houston resident Marc Margolis, who had to learn the hard way not to leave his work bag on the seat. "These guys were in and out of my car in 15 seconds.”
"They took a bag that had nothing in it” and Margolis had to miss a day of work getting the window fixed.
The officers say it happens all the time. They tell FOX 26 that invaluable items in plain sight tempt thieves just as much. Then your window repair will cost far more than what thieves took off with.
"It’s not important to you, but yet you spend $400 or $500 fixing your window,” says Sgt. Nguyen.
If you find a Houston police visibility of valuables "pass" or "fail" notes on your car, don’t get nervous. Just get yourself in gear and follow the officers' suggestions because the next person looking in your car may not be one of the good guys.