The above Tweets from Argus 911 were posted almost two years apart, the first in 2016 the second Monday (July 9, 2018).  It seem that the message of lock your car, especially if you have the equivalent of hundreds of dollars sitting in it, is going unheeded. It continues to happen in Sioux Falls; crimes that are the result of people leaving their cars unlocked. Come on Sioux Falls, we are better than this!

“All of these different crimes stem from leaving cars unlocked. If we could get people to just lock the cars, we’d see a dramatic decrease in the property crimes that we have in Sioux Fall," Sioux Falls Police Public Information Officer Sam Clemens said. We do see some cars that are broken into whether it be a window that’s broken sometimes a lock is maybe jimmied. Those (larcenies) are a little bit more rare.”

Yes, yes, I agree that any crime is ultimately the responsibly of the person committing it. Leaving a car unlocked doesn't mean you deserve to have your car broken into. But really? Really!?! If you leave a book outside in the rain, it will get ruined. Yes the water is what ruined the paper, but you left it outside. If you leave valuables out, unprotected they'll probably get stolen. Then you are out money and into a world of hassle (at best).

This doesn't really surprise me. Nearly every time I'm in a parking lot I walk past cars and can see phones sitting out and keys in ignitions. That's like leaving a bundle of cash sitting in the open. No, maybe a thief won't be able to sell your stuff and get away, but you are out a phone or car. You'll also see electronics, open purses, personal documents and checkbooks sitting in the open, in a empty car, in a parking lot or on the street.

Another layer of annoyance about this is that the people that do this are probably the ones most likely to shout about how Sioux Falls is going downhill, turning into a bad place to live. They're the loudmouths that talk about how "in my day you could leave your house unlocked and keep your money in a box on the streets." No, that time or place never existed. If you can't take care of your stuff it does not mean that Sioux Falls is becoming a real-life Gotham City, it means you are careless.

Warning people about this is not victim blaming. Someone who has their property stolen is not at fault, the fault and the crime is still with the criminal. This is about living in reality and avoiding being a victim. We own things that are valuable, there are people that will try to steal them, that's been a fact of life for all of history, everywhere on the planet. Wishing for less 'bad guys' isn't going to stop some drunk goofball from getting in your car and driving away while you get a gas station cappuccino on a cold day. Declaring that "if people raised their kids better this wouldn't happen" won't stop a sticky-fingered dumdum from reaching into your car and swiping your wallet.

This is also not a small, personal event between a one person and a thief that then goes away. If a car or an expensive item is stolen the police have to be involved. That takes police time and resources. Then insurance companies and probably lending institutions have to be a part of it. All of this we pay for this in taxes and insurance cost. It all could be avoided by being careful.

Often people have a misunderstanding of crime, especially crimes like this. There isn't a huge organized group of professional cat burglars out there prowling the dark streets of our fair city targeting certain people. It's random crimes of opportunity. Somebody sees a chance, like an unattended phone or a running car, and takes it. Whether it's someone who wants something they can't afford, wants to sell it for money, or is doing it for the thrill.

I grew up in a town of 6000 people in western Nebraska, it was the biggest town in the area. In fact, when I was a kid we had to travel to the next biggest town (population 10,000) to go to Walmart or McDonald's. I graduated high school with about 90% of the people I started kindergarten with. Most everyone knew everyone and had lived there for generations. It was as idealistic as small-town America can get. And I was still raised to lock-up what I didn't want stolen. You lock your house, you lock your bike (or at least put it in the locked garage) and you lock your car.

We weren't driven by a paranoia about some evil criminal gang. It was common sense to ward off the dumb kid, the drunk and the desperate.

I have been robbed three time in my life, all because I didn't lock my stuff up. Once in high school, I had several cassettes stolen from my locker because I didn't lock it. Once in New Mexico my truck was broken into. The thief took a CD case of burned CDs, but not the radio because I took the face off. They got in through the back cab window that was not locked. The third time was in Sioux Falls, I came out one morning to find my dome light on and glove box open. Nothing was stolen because I didn't leave anything in the car, but I had not locked it.

All three of these incidents follow the same pattern. The thief was looking for an opportunity to steal something. Checking lockers until one was found that wasn't locked. Going from car to car in the parking lot in NM and along the street in Sioux Falls doing the same thing.

Yes, the criminal is responsible for the crime, but its on all of us to take care of ourselves and our property. That's the first line of defense. If you're going to pay hundreds of dollars for a phone or a gun, or thousands of dollars for a car, it just makes sense protect your property. Lock your house and cars and don't leave valuables unattended in plain sight. Nobody is in that big of a hurry.


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