Tonight at 10: Gadgets, advice to make sure your car isn’t stolen

It’s a reminder law enforcement puts out there every winter: Don’t leave your car running unlocked and unattended.

It seems the commonsense reminders are still needed. According to Madison police, 343 cars have been reported stolen so far this year. That’s just one fewer than what was reported last year. Twenty-one vehicles were stolen in the month of October, and 20 of those cars had the keys in them or easily accessible for burglars.

One of the more common methods for these primarily teenage criminals to get to keys is through the garage. In a number of instances, they gain access with a garage door opener left in an unlocked car in the driveway. They then enter through an unlocked entrance to the house, where keys are typically hanging or left out on the table. Some of these stolen vehicles are involved in crashes later on.

Theresa Waage is a security supervisor with University of Wisconsin-Madison Police who’s trained in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. The certification allows her to evaluate a building’s vulnerability, assess possible security breaches and recommend measures to avoid crime there.

“We would look at the exterior doors, the entry points – including access doors, as well as windows, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems – and then kind of work our way in,” Waage said. “It’s kind of like an onion, if you will, and you have layers to work through.”

Some of Waage’s tactics are as obvious as extra locks, lights and camera systems. Others are less overt, like a bench. She calls it “natural surveillance.”

“We want to enhance that, encourage that behavior, because they are witnesses,” Waage said. “They are those who are out there and can provide suspect information in case something were to happen.”

Hear more of Waage’s advice and recommendations from an area police chief who has implemented some new security measures in his own home as a result of the recent surge of burglaries and thefts. That story airs tonight on News 3 Now at 10.

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