In March, University of Virginia police charged UVA student Mike Brown—a cornerback on the football team—with grand larceny after he allegedly broke into a car and made off with items worth more than $3,400.
It turns out Brown is in good (or bad) company. Though the number of vehicle break-ins in the city and county dropped from 2006 to 2007, both areas average more than one reported theft from a vehicle per day.
“A lot of car break-ins are crimes of opportunity,” says Lt. Todd Hopwood of the Albemarle County Police Department. “We’re talking about things as little as spare change in your dashboard.”
Thefts from vehicles in the city dropped to 426 in 2007 from 451 in 2006. County numbers fell to 527 in 2007 from 539 in 2006.
In 2007, there were 426 reported thefts from vehicles in the city, down from 451 in 2006. That same year, the county totaled 527 thefts, down from 539 in 2006. UVA Police reported 15 thefts from vehicles, a dramatic drop from 51 in 2006.
However, if you park on the street, you may want to avoid the UVA area. High numbers of car break-ins in both the city and county are concentrated around Grounds.
The Charlottesville Police Department breaks the city into six police districts. District six, which surrounds the UVA campus and stretches from Barracks Road south to Stribling Avenue, recorded 108 vehicle break-ins last year, by far the most in the city, though that still dropped by 26 percent from 2006. The sixth district includes the Alderman Road neighborhood, 14th Street NW and most of Grady Avenue.
The city’s easternmost district that runs from Pen Park to the railroad tracks southeast of the Downtown Mall recorded 75 thefts from vehicles, the second most in the city. That number increased from 69 break-ins in 2006.
In the county, thefts from vehicles occurred more frequently along the major thoroughfares of Route 250 and Route 29. Hopwood says that county police have seen an increase in thefts from vehicles while they were parked in church parking lots.
The greatest number of thefts occurred in the county police district that encompasses the Fashion Square Mall, running along the east side of 29N. There were 77 reported thefts last year, down from 101 in 2006.
“Somebody is walking through the mall parking lot and sees something inside of a car and goes in and steals whatever’s right there, plain and evident,” says Hopwood.
But just north of Fashion Square, in the district that includes Hollymead, thefts from vehicles more than tripled. In 2006, there were 14 reported car break-ins. In 2007, that number jumped to 46.
So how do you avoid having your car broken into? The best advice, Hopwood says, is to keep anything valuable—dimes and quarters included—out of plain sight.
And you may want to avoid Scott Stadium.
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