#NightlyLockup MPD campaign uses billboard, social media to ask citizens to lock up valuables

Police will use new and old media to ask Madisonians to lock up their goods every night to prevent crime.

Madison police announced the #NightlyLockup initiative at a news conference Wednesday morning in front of a billboard featuring the hashtag.

The idea is to encourage drivers to lock their cars, especially at 8 p.m. every night, to prevent passersby from rifling through the vehicle to steal items inside, or the vehicle itself.

Police plan to use social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to post a reminder every night, along with the hashtag. Multiple billboards, provided by Adams Outdoor, will feature the advisory throughout the county, officials said.

The initiative is following an increase in car break-ins and auto thefts, police said. A majority of the people committing the crimes are teenagers, and Officer Tyler Grigg said they are targeting that group with their efforts on social media.

“These kids are on social media. They are on Snapchat,” Grigg said. “A lot of times, they are sitting on their phones, and it is hard to get their attention. Why not use social media platforms to speak to our youth especially.”

#NightlyLockup MPD campaign uses billboard, social media to ask citizens to lock up valuables

Police said there have been 1,280 thefts from vehicles in 2017, during which 27 guns were stolen. P olice believe those guns are contributing to gunfire around the city.

“We have people who are not only leaving their keys in the car and their car unlocked but are leaving their gun in the car. All of this kind of fits together,” said Public Information Officer Joel DeSpain.

A total of 373 cars have been stolen in Madison this year, compared to a total number of 379 last year.

“Leaving your car unlocked, leads to guns being stolen, leads to cars being stolen, leads to everything else. It leads to shots being fired, it leads to kids shooting at each other, it leads to home invasion, to armed robberies,” said Cpt. Cory Nelson, Madison west district.

Nine youths have been referred to the county’s juvenile court program since October for stealing cars, according to John Bauman, Dane County Juvenile Court Administrator.

“It’s inherently dangerous to those of us who are on the road when that young person is driving that vehicle. So that (stealing cars) per policy is an automatic secure custody and detention placement,” said Bauman.

Youth can only be held in detention for seven days and are then referred to the court. The rules are different if kids are caught stealing items from a car. According to Bauman, statutes do not allow the program to place them in detention unless they are repeat offenders.

“If they do, that ups the ante considerably and then there are grounds for considering detention. For instance, if someone steals from a car and they are released to our shelter home and commit another violation, that then allows for us to consider using detention whereas it didn’t the first time a kid was referred,” he said.

Bauman said he has noticed the increase in youth being referred to the court program for car thefts, sometimes they are also repeat offenders.

“Detention is a very short-term response to these kinds of incidents. As a system, and that’s across the board human services, the judiciary, our intake processes, we really need to take a look at how we are responding to that behavior if a young person is not changing what their decisions are,” he said

MPD says these thefts are not specific to Madison, and that police departments across the nation are also launching similar campaigns to remind people to lock their doors after an increase in vehicle-related thefts.