Police in London borough are taking valuables from unlocked cars in hopes of teaching civilians the importance of safety. The legal ‘thefts’ are being conducted in Richmond, where ‘real’ thefts from cars are up 40 percent in a year. Disturbingly, one-fifth of the increase were from cars left unlocked.
“The message to car owners is: 'Help us to help you,'” Richmond Police Chief Inspector Duncan Slade said in a statement. (1)
Ah yes, the Jerry Maguire philosophy! In effect, British cops prowl their beats looking for unlocked cars. If they see something a thief might like to get their hands on such as a navigation system, purse, or box of liberally-frosted bear claws, they’ll “remove the property for safekeeping,” and leave a note explaining what’s happened and the location of the police station where the goods can be picked up. In cases where an unlocked car doesn’t’ appear to have any items inside that would catch a shady person’s eye, cops have the option of leaving a note reminding the car’s owner to be more careful.
The edgy operation has the blessings of the Richmond council, which is concerned that their otherwise idyllic crime-scape has an achilles' heel: Theft from unlocked vehicles.
David Williams, the council's cabinet member for community safety, said: “We have the lowest level of crime per head of any borough. However, one problem we have got is too many thefts from motor vehicles. The main reason for this is sheer thoughtlessness and carelessness by car owners.”
He said most people who had their things taken from their cars by police were “relieved” and found it helpful. (2)
In related news, I flew across the pond to David Williams’ home and stole his mail to teach him the importance of securing his own goods with a lock. How careless of him; he'll have to travel to Washington to retrieve his electric bill and grocery coupons.
Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the AA, seems to understand my sentiments: “Not everyone will react well to having to go to the police station to retrieve their property. However, if they are stupid enough to leave items in an unlocked car then a gentle reminder is perhaps what they need,” he said. (2)
I couldn’t agree more, Luke.