Thefts of auto parts and items inside cars have surged this year.
Last year, Fairfax County police found 1,019 incidents involved larcenies of vehicle parts and theft of personal property inside autos.
Just in the first three months of this year, there have been a total of 1,325 incidents, Fairfax County Police Department told FFXnow on Thursday (March 31).
In response to the uptick in thefts, the police have partnered with the auto repair shop G&C Tire and Auto Service to provide free anti-theft labels, Sully District Supervisor Kathy Sullivan said in a March 30 tweet.
On Saturday (April 9) and May 15, the Chantilly-based shop will install free labels for catalytic converters to track the true owner of the part. It includes a unique code and the URL of a database of owners.
“It will break into pieces if an attempt is made to remove them,” the business says in the Facebook post for the event. “In addition, a fluid that etches into metal is applied to the labels so that even if they are removed, the code and URL will remain clearly readable.”
In a Jan. 28 video, FCPD Second Lt. James Curry described one overnight incident on Jan. 5 where catalytic converters were removed from vehicles from a dealership, resulting in a chase.
“Catalytic converter thefts are common in the early morning hours, and often occur in parking lots where cars are stored overnight or apartment complexes that allow for easy access to thieves,” Curry said.
Police encourage community members to park in well-lit areas and contact their homeowners’ association or property manager if lights are not working properly.
“Always remove valuables, to include car keys, from vehicles and lock your cars,” police told FFXnow. “If you see anything suspicious, please call 911 or our non-emergency number, 703-691-2131.”
Authorities also advise people to hide valuables and not store firearms, garage door openers, or house keys in vehicles.
County resident Desiree Donaldson and her family live next to a school, but sometimes their dogs will bark for no reason. After one incident, her husband checked outside and learned about attempted break-ins.
On March 28, she found that sunglasses were stolen from her car. She posted about the incident on the social media site Nextdoor, urging community members to lock their doors.
“I have a neighbor, that lives about a minute or so away from me and she caught this on camera,” Donaldson told FFXnow. “The same thing happened to her, but her cars were locked and nothing was stolen.”
That resident, Lynn Green, has posted videos of incidents on March 5 and 22 captured by her Ring camera. The first time, her vehicle was accidentally left unlocked. The second video showed two people going to vehicles and trying to open doors of vehicles in the neighborhood.
“I have been walking my [neighborhood] and sharing what happened with anyone who is outside,” Green said in an email. “It is amazing how many people are unaware of what is happening.”
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