HERE'S a reminder from the Cumberland Times-News...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

HERE'S a reminder from the Cumberland Times-News (June 24) that every car owner ought to take to heart:

"Maryland is making progress on its campaign to drop out of the nation's top 10 worst states for automobile theft.

"Statistics last year showed Maryland ranked 10th in the nation in stolen cars with 683 auto thefts per 100,000 residents. While it is too early to tell how much things are improving, the period January through March of this year saw 7,970 cars stolen in the state as compared to 9,178 for the same period in 1994.

"To bring down the stolen car rate, the state established the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Fund. Governed by a council comprised of representatives of law enforcement, prosecution, state agencies, business and crime prevention associations, the program uses education, crime analysis, prosecution and training programs to cut down on car thefts.

"The Department of Motor Vehicles is also helping. It has distributed 340,000 cards with theft prevention tips. The tips will also appear in newspaper advertisements and run on radio and television public service announcements. In a few months, the state will have an auto theft hotline in use.

"The Maryland Community Crime Prevention Institute suggests the following steps to prevent your vehicle from being stolen:

"Lock your doors and take your keys.

"Park in well-lighted areas and avoid secluded areas.

"If you hide a spare key in the car, hide only the door key.

"Use anti-theft devices that prevent thieves from using the steering wheel, or a 'kill switch,' which locks the ignition until a hidden lever is flipped.

"Don't leave all your keys with parking garage attendants. Leave just the ignition key.

"When parking on a curb, turn your wheels toward the curb to prevent thieves from towing your car.

"Do not leave the car registration form in the glove compartment. Duplicate copies can be made at the Department of Motor Vehicles for a nominal fee and should be carried in each driver's wallet."

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