Lynnwood, Wash.-- While the holidays are a festive and happy time-- there's a darker side to the season. We hear David Rose on Washington's Most Wanted telling us every week about ways criminals are looking to take advantage of us when we're busy and distracted. And while you might know the obvious stuff-- parking in well lit areas and putting your belongings in your trunk-- there's some stuff you might not know too.
"This one has a bag in the front seat," says crime prevention specialist Lisa Wellington peering in the window with a small flashlight. "This is bad." Wellington is with the Lynnwood Police Department and she's giving a pop quiz car checks when asked near stores and apartment complexes. If you're on the nice l list-- it means you're a hard target for criminals and you get a gold star on a piece of paper on your windshield. If you're on her naughty list-- you get what brief list of what a thief might have been tempted to take in your vehicle.
"Gloves, hats, not too bad," she says inspecting the next vehicle in the lot. "This is the season."
This time of year every busy parking lot is a virtual buffet of potential goodies for thieves to steal. There's no grading on a curve here-- it's just pass or fail.
Wellington says often car prowlers only take a few seconds to decide if you're going to be their next victim. So the adage of "out of sight, out of mind" really does apply. That means stowing things under the seat. In the center console or in the glove box can make a huge difference. Or even better, do a scan of your car before you leave you house to see what items can just be left at home.
"What we don’t want people to do is have something valuable in the backseat and throw a blanket over it," says Wellington. "You just don't want to create temptation."
She recommends if you're unloading purchases into your car to head back into the store, consider using that time to move your car to a different spot in case you're being watched. She says that often prowlers work in pairs. And if you see something odd, report it.
"If you just take simple precautions," says Wellington, "you can have a good shopping experience."