Harford County Sheriff's deputies are investigating a large number of automobile break-ins and thefts from autos and believe the trend can be stopped, or at least slowed, with greater vigilance by vehicle owners.
As of Sept. 9, deputies had responded to 492 car break-ins and thefts reported to the Sheriff's Office for the year. Most of the incidents, 434 of them, have occurred in Bel Air, Edgewood, Aberdeen and Fallston. In July alone deputies responded to more than 100 incidents.
"While no area of the county is immune, deputies see the highest number of these incidents in more densely populated areas," spokesman Edward Hopkins said in the release.
Deputies say, while suspects do search out and target specific vehicles and communities, more often than not, thefts from autos are typically crimes of opportunity.
Deputies assigned to the Community Policing Unit will tell anyone that most thefts from vehicles occur while cars are parked at residences and when asked, most vehicles owner will tell police they didn't think it would happen to them. Police also note that owners will often leave their cars unlocked when stopping for a quick errand or at a convenience store.
Deputies recommend when shopping to park in well-lit areas, and remove all valuables from the car before leaving home or secure them in the trunk of the vehicle. Deputies also strongly remind owners it is illegal to leave their vehicle unattended with the engine running.
Havre de Grace vehicle owners have also suffered through a recent spate of thefts from cars, one over Labor Day weekend, as well as two weeks prior to that and in late June.
Police spokesman Ofc. Jeff Gilpin said there are no updates in those cases.
"There was not much physical evidence that officers were able to recover and we have not discovered any new leads," he said Tuesday.