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.