Car prowler warning

The Maple Valley Police department wants to encourage residents to take steps to prevent car prowlers breaking into their vehicles.

Officer Jeff Harmon, who works out the department’s storefront office next to City Hall, offered tips people can use to minimize the possibility of a break in.

“During the past several months, we have seen a considerable increase in the number of vehicle break-ins within Maple Valley,” Harmon said in an e-mail. “Since only a percentage of these crimes are actually reported to police, the numbers are likely even higher than what we are aware of.”

The biggest problem, Harmon said, is that people are leaving their vehicles unlocked and that is an open invitation to car prowlers.

Criminals like to break into vehicles because it takes only a few minutes to smash the windows and grab all they can. It takes less time and effort when cars are left unlocked.

Thieves often drive through parking lots looking for cars with open windows or unlocked doors as well as valuables left out in the open like cell phones, iPods, laptops, CDs and stereo equipment.

Police suggest moving those items out of view before you park your car if possible.

Maple Valley Police offer 10 tips to reduce thefts and vehicle break-ins:

• Completely close all windows

• Lock all the doors

• Install a vehicle tracking system

• Install an ignition or fuel cut-off switch

• Remove all valuables

• Install a steering wheel locking device

• Install an alarm system with a kill switch

• Never leave your vehicle running unattended

• Park in well-lit locations. Avoid isolated areas.

More information can be found at