Stolen car registrations lead to bigger score

Posted at 10:42 PM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-12 02:01:13-04

Police want you to have the right crime prevention tools to keep the latest crime trend from spreading.

Car break-ins are rampant in all corners of the Valley and, Mesa police say, the first place crooks raid is the glove box. Then, they hit the center console because that’s the most common hiding place for valuables, like money and electronics.

It turns out, the most valuable items in the glove box can be paperwork. Your car insurance and registration list all kinds of personal information and gives thieves the keys to an even bigger payday.

"We have connections to residential burglaries because, now, the thief knows where you live," said Mesa Police Sergeant Diana Williams.

She says it’s easy to shrug off missing paperwork, but you shouldn’t.

"I've been on scenes where people say, 'They just took my insurance card.' It's not ‘just,’ it's they did take your insurance card and you need to report it to the proper agencies so they can put out an alert and issue your information," Sgt. Williams said.

Amy Baker says she was concerned when her husband's car was ripped off in San Diego and the only thing missing was the registration.

"He was also concerned because if it is something that has to do with your credit and ID theft, that can be a big deal, so he put a freeze on all his credit bureaus," said Baker.

Vehicle theft task forces in southern California say crooks in Border States will also steal a similar vehicle, take it to Mexico and then use the stolen registration to apply for plates south of the border.

Police agencies from around the Valley say the biggest commonality in car break-ins is that they are crimes of opportunity because people are not diligent about locking their doors.

Authorities advise that your best defense is remembering to take, hide and lock. In Arizona, you can keep your insurance electronically so take the paper out of the car. Hide your registration somewhere other than glove box or center console, like the trunk. Lock the glove box and lock your car no matter what time of day or how safe you think your neighborhood is. Police say, even if you live in a gated community you can still be a target.

"People have the mentality, 'it won't happen to me,' however, it does," said Sgt. Williams.