Opinion: Thefts from autos disturbingly on the rise


Broken glass and smashed windows are a testament to the increase in thefts from autos in DC. Photo credit: Kate Michael

Thefts from autos in DC have gotten so egregious that drivers absolutely cannot leave anything visible in their cars.  Not a phone charger.  Not a plastic bag.  Nothing.  Not even lint.

Broken glass in parking lots and on the roadside is a disturbing testament to the fact that these days, leaving behind anything worth more than a nickel wins drivers an almost guaranteed broken window. 

A neighbor working from home observed what he called a “survey team” park across from his house to seek out a vehicle worth breaking into and described how the scene played out: The spotter exits the vehicle and walks past parked cars to spot anything of value and lets the driver know when it is time to smash & grab.  The driver then pulls out slowly doing his/her best to block the view of the window smash.  The spotter grabs items from the vehicle, jumps into the car, and they drive away.  Police tell us that one way streets are appealing for this type of theft as they limit the chance of being surprised by a patrol car coming the other way.

But even without a getaway car, thieves are smashing and grabbing. A neighborhood business owner described a scene outside his office where a walker seemingly passing by abruptly crashed his elbow into a car parked at a short term meter and ran off with the briefcase he saw inside. 

We keep telling people not to leave items visible in their cars, and obviously this is sage advice.  It’s always best not to tempt someone to steal from us.  Electronics, bags and other items left in cars definitely draw the attention of those looking to steal valuables, so don’t just hide them – take them with you.