Stop thief

Is this an early April Fools joke?

In an effort to reduce the number of car break-ins in the city, the West Palm Beach Police Department has begun distributing printed signs — similar to those Do Not Disturb requests that dangle from hotel room doors — for drivers to hang from their rear-view mirrors, alerting potential thieves that there’s nothing in the car worth stealing.

”STOP Thief!”, the hangers warn in bright green and red colors, “There Are NO Valuables, Money/Change, Computers, Purses, Briefcases in this vehicle!”

You got to be kidding. A sign is going to discourage a thief from breaking in a car? You’re counting on the thief’s ability to read and then his paying attention to the sign.

Welcome to Florida, where our police departments regularly show a total lack of brains and common sense. The rest of the Miami Herald article is below the fold.

Hat tip- Rick at SFDB who writes– “Maybe the stupidest thing I’ve heard of recently.”

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The effectiveness of the ploy may be debatable, but the need isn’t.

”Auto thefts and taking auto parts from a car are the number one crime in the city,” Police Chief Delsa Bush said last week. “This is basically a crime of youth, and it’s a crime of opportunity.”

Last year, for example, the city tallied 2,570 instances of car thefts or robberies from cars. So when Bush read that one of the Carolinas had noted a marked decrease in car break-ins since distributing similar hangers, she put Crime Prevention Officer Kelly Carsillo on the case.

The city has printed 2,000 of the hangers, which Citizens On Patrol volunteers are distributing. The hangers can also be picked up in the lobby of the police station at 600 Banyan Blvd.

Will the signs work?

”We don’t see people break into a car and have enough time to dismantle a stereo like they used to,” Bush said. “Usually, these crimes happen because the owner has left something in the car that the thief can grab and remove very quickly. If you put that hanger up there and they see it, why bother?”

Cynics might note that all this presumes car thieves can read, but the hangers have two sides, and so does the psychology behind them.

On the back are instructions for the car owner: “Hang tag on your rearview mirror only after removing ALL valuables.”

So the hangers not only discourage thieves from stealing, they also encourage drivers to remove valuables from the car.

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