H.E.A.T. Auto Theft Prevention Helps Mich. Residents Stay Safe

November 21, 2005

The hustle and bustle of the holidays is approaching fast and Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (H.E.A.T.) is aiming to keep safety top-of-mind among preoccupied shoppers who are particularly vulnerable this season.

“The shopping season is a hectic time and it’s easy to become distracted while focused on your gift list or parcels,” said Terri Miller, director of H.E.A.T. “Thieves look forward to this time of year so they can capitalize on the common mistakes shoppers make, such as leaving vehicles unlocked and running or stowing gifts and shopping bags in open view instead of in the trunk.”

To help ensure the 2005 holiday shopping season stays safe for Michigan residents, H.E.A.T. recommends the following precautions:

1. Park in well-lit areas, near sidewalks or walkways. Avoid parking near dumpsters or large vans or trucks. These obstacles decrease your ability to see the space around your vehicle clearly, where thieves or carjackers could be hiding.

2. Consider using the valet service if you are out at a shopping center alone at night. It may cost money, but your safety is worth more. Leave the valet only the ignition key with no I.D. Keep your registration and proof of insurance in your wallet.

3. Place gifts in the trunk and out of view. Use a trash bag, blanket or cardboard box to camouflage packages in the back of a van or SUV. If you’re going back into the store or mall for more shopping, move your car to another area of the lot so thieves don’t see you leaving a car full of valuable merchandise.

4. Try to keep one hand free with the other hand holding your car keys as you approach or leave your vehicle so you can maneuver if you encounter a thief or carjacker.

5. If threatened by a carjacker with a gun or other weapon, GIVE UP THE CAR. DON’T ARGUE. A life is more important than any car.

6. If you witness an auto theft or carjacking, call the police immediately. If you have any information regarding an auto theft, insurance fraud or carjacking, call the H.E.A.T. tip reward line at 1-800-242-H.E.A.T.

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