Tina Trenkner is the Deputy Editor for GOVERNING.com. She edits the Technology and Health newsletters.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers are patrolling parking lots and warning drivers about the risk of theft.
The next time you see a police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, walking through a parking lot, don't automatically assume he or she is ready to write parking tickets. They're trying to reduce the number of car break-ins. The Charlotte Observer reports that since April, some divisions of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department are using any free time they have to alert drivers of their risk of having their cars being broken into as a part of an increased effort to reduce and investigate thefts from auto. As officers cruise through area parking lots, they look for cars with valuable electronics on display -- GPS units, MP3 players and other devices that are prime targets for theft. They run the tags of the vulnerable cars and approach the owners at home or by phone to warn them of break-in risks from leaving valuables in view. Officer Dave Johnson of the University City Division (one of the participating divisions) estimates that 20 to 40 attempts have been made a week to identify and approach drivers at risk, and says reactions from drivers have been favorable. The police department's increased focus on reducing property theft may have helped decrease the number of car break-ins. The number of larcenies from autos from January to June this year is down 29 percent from the same time period in 2008.Thumbnail photo illustration by alex92287, available through a Creative Commons license .
Update, August 6, 2009: This article has been edited to clarify the role of parking-lot patrolling in reducing property theft.