What You Can Do to Avoid Becoming a Victim of Opportunistic Car Thieves

For starters, lock your doors.

Sometimes all a thief needs to do to break into your car is open the unlocked door

An Inside Edition investigation has found many drivers are leaving their cars unlocked, making them an easy target for thieves.

In one instance, a burglar found an unlocked car in someone’s driveway. Nothing inside the vehicle was worth stealing, but the thief found an electronic garage door opener that gave him access to the house and he ended up stealing two bikes.

In another startling case, a police cruiser was left unlocked in a driveway. The thief easily got away with a rifle. He was later caught.

To find out how bad the problem is, Inside Edition’s Senior Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero spent a day with the Mount Pleasant Police Department in New York and security consultant Steve Kardian.  

The group went to a shopping center, where, with the help of police, they found car after car left unlocked.

“They all say the same thing — ‘I was only in the store for five minutes,’” Guerrero said. 

“That's the common answer we get," Kardian said. "It's almost an embarrassment, that they let something so simple possibly ruin their day."

One of the officers found a car unlocked with expensive sunglasses inside. In another unlocked vehicle, a wallet was left on the passenger’s seat, keys on the driver’s seat and a cellphone in the center console.   

“If you are a criminal, you hit the jackpot here!” Guerrero said. 

Guerrero confronted one woman who left her young child in an unlocked, running car while she was shopping.

“I want to know why you would leave this car unlocked and you have a child in there, ma'am,” Guerrero said. 

“Come in here, feel the car, it's not hot,” the woman replied. 

“It's unlocked; someone could take your child," Guerrero said.  "Aren't you worried about that?” 

Officers advise against leaving your children alone in a vehicle and to always make sure you lock your car every time you leave it.