Vehicle break-ins make holidays less merry

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Design features can help hide goods from prying eyes

With the holiday shopping season entering its final days in the leadup to Christmas, those who search for presents this weekend will undoubtably not want to be forced to buy gifts a second time.
That’s the conundrum facing shoppers who leave gifts in their vehicle while moving on to other stores, only to discover later that someone has managed to break into their car, truck, van or SUV.

After goods collected for the SPCA were stolen from a vehicle in St. John’s recently, Ross Hutchings of Avalon Ford in St. John’s shared a few tips on how to protect vehicles from thieves while holiday shopping. — Photo by Andrew Robinson/The Telegram

Earlier this week, The Telegram told the story of the Ellis family. The family held a skating party last Saturday in St. John’s to collect donated supplies for the local SPCA. Later that night, gift bags containing the donated goods were stolen from their truck in the parking lot of Holy Heart Theatre.

There are ways to prevent vehicle break-ins, according to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. In a news release issued last month, it said purchased items should be stored in the trunk or a concealed area.

Ross Hutchings, Internet sales manager for Avalon Ford in St. John’s, notes there are many vehicle features to help people hide their gifts and avoid becoming a victim of theft.

“Your typical person ... will just throw their gifts in the backseat, close the door, lock the doors hopefully, and go on in (to continue shopping). Now if you take a second to think about what you ar,” Hutchings said.

For trunks whose contents may be visible through a window, Hutchings suggests shoppers make use of a security shade that prevents people from seeing what’s inside the trunk.

“So if I’m out shopping and I’m going to put whatever gifts I have in here, I make sure this is closed up, and that way any peeping eyes into the vehicle, they’re not going to see the goodies and they’re not going to target my vehicle,” he said. “They’ll move on to something that they know is going to be a score for them.”

The newest model of the Ford Escape includes in-floor storage compartments that would go unnoticed without being already familiar with the vehicle, decreasing the likelihood a thief will uncover its contents. Hutchings suggests the compartments would be useful for storing smaller items such as MP3 players, cellphones, or jewelery boxes.

“Nobody knows about this unless they own the vehicle,” he said.

Tinted windows can also help prevent a vehicle from being targeted, according to Hutchings.

In the case of the vehicle theft involving donated goods for the SPCA, Cheryl Ellis told The Telegram she suspected those responsible for breaking into her truck were expecting items other than dog and cat supplies when they spotted Christmas gift bags in the back seat.

According to the RNC, even leaving an empty box in plain view can prove to be a means for a vehicle attracting unwanted attention.

The RNC suggests it is best to park in open and well-travelled areas. When night falls, police recommend parking in well-lit areas. Spare keys should not be kept in a vehicle, as the RNC notes experienced thieves know where to look.

Police also recommend the use of alarm systems that can sound when someone attempts to break in, move, tilt or turn on a vehicle.

 

arobinson@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: SPCA, Ford Escape

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Recent comments

  • J. Linegar
    December 20, 2013 - 16:42

    I have an idea. Let the SPCA rent large dogs at, say, $20 for one day, you put the dog in your car, and thieves steer clear of it. An added bonus is that you give an unwanted, caged up dog a day of freedom, and you'll feel good about that.

  • potential victim
    December 20, 2013 - 12:46

    @ escape owner... maybe you work for Avalon Ford and this is your (or their) idea of damage control. Getting a grip goes both ways. As for keyboard hero...I'll take that as a compliment. Meantime, Merry Christmas or in your case it's probably Happy Holidays.

    • Kodos
      December 20, 2013 - 13:14

      Of course you would be concerned of a disclosed sercret compartment. Really though, if you look at the online brochure which I have, it's pointed out in three different pictures! Ford is not afraid of advertising their security features and a owner shouldn't be afraid of a dealer advertising it. It comes to the fact that you don't have to use theses features!!! Chances are the people complaining about it never used the compartments or knew they were there! If someone is going to break in the vehicle they are going to go through the vehicle no matter what. I say kodos I Avalon Ford and Ford to keeping the public informed on how to stay safe.

    • .......
      December 20, 2013 - 13:15

      So you don't denied being one of those people? You probably take that as a comment as well. Merry Christmas as well, hopefully Santa leaves a gift in your secret compartment for you ;) oooooppppsss I let the cat out the bag

  • someone forgot the brain
    December 20, 2013 - 11:43

    This is what I would call an infomercial that backfired. I would not want to own a Ford Escape now.(or ever for that matter)

  • potential victim
    December 20, 2013 - 11:41

    @ escape owner....they may have time searching for "hidden" compartments now that they know where to look. Why waste time with the smash and grab knowing there are compartments most likely holding the real valuables....cell phones, mp3 players etc. Maybe your thoughts would be different if you became the victim due to this information being released by the dealer. I feel it was in bad taste and Hutchings / Avalon Ford should not have disclosed this security feature.

    • .........
      December 20, 2013 - 11:58

      I doubt that many of these people who break into vehicles have the time to swing by the store and grab a copy of The Telegram, nor do they frequent the website....If they watch any TV at all I am sure the Ford Commercials don't hold back on the features of the vehicle. Also coming from a former sales associate in the automotive industry, I know your type. So I assume your one of those people who just likes to open their mouth to hear words come out and probably already call Ford looking for a free handout. Always looking for a reason to complain in hopes that you will get something for nothing. If I were you, I would contact Ford and tell them to take down all the information they have regarding this compartment because of the national security risk. Get a grip and think before you type keyboard hero.

    • Escape Owner
      December 20, 2013 - 12:33

      This is not a security feature, it's no different the a glove box or center console...wait I just pointed out that vehicles have glove boxes and center console's...maybe I shouldn't say that because the potential thieves will now look in them. Like someone else said, this information is not secret, it's plastered all over the internet in brochures and commercials for all the brands not just Ford. Get a grip!

  • Escape Owner
    December 20, 2013 - 11:28

    Wow - It's not like they gave anyone a map or directions as to where this compartment is people. Potential thieves smash and grab, they don't have time to waste searching for "hidden" compartments. I think these are great tips!!! Thank you Avalon Ford & The Telegram for running this story!

  • potential victim
    December 20, 2013 - 11:02

    Thanks Avalon Ford for disclosing a unique feature of my Escape to would be thieves. Maybe my home address would be helpful to them also. A case of wanting to be on the front page at my expense. Won't happen a second time. There is another dealer in the city where I can purchase my next Ford .

  • Steve
    December 20, 2013 - 10:20

    I would like to personally thank you for letting the thousands of readers of the The Telegram including those that would commit such an act this time of year with the information of the "secret compartment" in the Ford Escape. Some how I do not feel like the risk is decreased with a public statement such as this. "The newest model of the Ford Escape includes in-floor storage compartments that would go unnoticed without being already familiar with the vehicle, decreasing the likelihood a thief will uncover its contents. Hutchings suggests the compartments would be useful for storing smaller items such as MP3 players, cellphones, or jewelery boxes." A little too much information?

  • shopper
    December 20, 2013 - 09:20

    Ironic - thieves may not have known about the feature in the Ford Escape, but thanks to Hutchings, they do now. I am sure that Escape owners are delighted that you revealed this to the criminal element..