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The Villages
Friday, July 12, 2024

Car burglary could be the beginning of even bigger headaches

Lady Lake Police Chief Chris McKinstry

Now that the holidays are over and we get back to a regular routine it is still important to remain vigil. I know I have discussed identity theft before, but it is such an important and timely topic I want to keep people thinking about it. Gone are the days when burglars simply stole belongings out of your vehicle and that was the end of it. Now, they steal your identity. These thieves move swiftly, often without being noticed, because it takes only seconds to commit this type of crime. 
Unfortunately, the crime doesn’t stop after your belongings are stolen. This can lead to hundreds of more offenses. Once a criminal steals your purse, briefcase or laptop – all of which usually contain your personal information – the door is open to swiping your identity. 
Cleaning-up your name and credit score after becoming an identity theft victim often takes months or even years. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, victims spend an average of 30 hours repairing their credit and name after an identity theft crime. 
It’s important to keep in mind that criminals target drivers who leave personal items in their vehicles while completing daily chores. This includes pumping gas at a local gas station, shopping, and running other errands. 
Those who drive large vehicles, such as minivans and SUVs, are even easier targets because their view to the other side is often obstructed. 
I want you to be aware of a few easy steps that will help keep your personal items and your identity safe:
• As soon as you enter your vehicle, lock your doors.
• Always pay attention to your surroundings and the people around you.
• Do not leave valuables such as your purse, briefcase or cell phone in plain view. Place the items under your seat or in the trunk before you arrive at your destination.
• Keep your windows rolled-up. This will prevent a thief from reaching into your vehicle.
The men and women of the Lady Lake Police Department are working hard to catch these criminals, but we need your help to thwart the crime before it happens. I urge you to add these simple crime prevention tips to your daily life. Doing so will help us protect you, your property and your identity.

Chris McKinstry is the chief of police in Lady Lake.

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