Help Eliminate Auto Thefts offers tips to keep shoppers and their vehicles safe this holiday season
With the holiday season in full swing, Detroit residents are heading to malls and local shops to purchase gifts for friends and loved ones. As they do, Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (HEAT), Michigan’s statewide auto theft prevention tip line, is reminding everyone to be safe while shopping.
“Thieves often target shopping center parking lots in search of vehicles with shopping bags, packages and other valuable items in plain sight,” said Mark Wagenshutz, executive director of HEAT. “It’s easy to let your guard down while caught up in the holiday spirit. That’s why HEAT is encouraging all shoppers to take extra precaution when stocking up for the holidays.”
To keep shoppers and their vehicles safe, HEAT recommends seven simple tips:
- Always be alert—Be cautious of your surroundings. When approaching your vehicle, avoid talking or texting on your cell phone, looking for your keys or handling multiple packages.
- Parking—Park in well-lit areas and attended lots. If you can, avoid shopping alone after dark. Try to avoid parking near anything that can block your view such as posts, trees, bushes or large vans.
- Place items in trunk—Do not leave packages in plain view in your vehicle. Be sure to put bags, packages and other valuable items in your trunk. When putting the items in the trunk, do so with discretion—do not showcase what you are putting in the trunk.
- Lock your car—Be sure to always double check you have locked your car and all windows are rolled up. Never leave your vehicle running unattended.
- Walk directly to your car—When your shopping trip is over and you are walking back to your car, walk directly to where you are parked, do not spend time wandering around the parking lot. Walk assuredly and confidently.
- Don’t argue—If a carjacker wants your vehicle or packages, give them up. Possessions aren’t worth your life. If possible, get a good description of the carjacker.
- Always ask—If you’re alone and don’t feel comfortable walking to your car, don’t hesitate to ask retail security personnel for an escort.
When shopping, if you witness an auto theft or carjacking, call 911 immediately. After you have informed law enforcement, call HEAT’s confidential tip reward line, 1-800-242-HEAT. For more information on HEAT visit www.miheat.org.
HEAT works with Michigan law enforcement agencies to follow up on tips. Tipsters are awarded up to $1,000 if the tip leads to the arrest of a suspected car thief or a person suspected of auto theft-related insurance fraud. HEAT pays $2,000 for information leading to the issuance of a warrant for a carjacking suspect. Rewards of up to $10,000 are issued if a tip results in the arrest and binding over for trial of suspected theft ring or chop shop operators. The HEAT tip line is monitored by the Michigan State Police and funded by Michigan’s auto insurance companies. Follow HEAT on Facebook and on Twitter @1800242HEAT.