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Albany police give ‘grades’ on car break-in prevention

Police visit Albany communities to help prevent car break-ins

Cpl. Brian Covington and members of the Crime Prevention Community Relations unit of the Albany Police Department were at Pine Forest Apartments on Pinson Road Wednesday to educate car owners and to grade them on whether they’ve removed valuable items from their cars and locked their doors. (Staff Photo: Jim West)

Cpl. Brian Covington and members of the Crime Prevention Community Relations unit of the Albany Police Department were at Pine Forest Apartments on Pinson Road Wednesday to educate car owners and to grade them on whether they’ve removed valuable items from their cars and locked their doors. (Staff Photo: Jim West)

ALBANY — Members of the Crime Prevention Community Relations unit of the Albany Police Department were out in force Wednesday, checking to see if unattended cars were locked or if valuable items had been left inside. They were also giving “grades” on how well residents had applied advice from the week before.

Speaking from site of the unit’s morning project at Pine Forest Apartments on Pinson Road, Cpl. Brian Covington with the APD said the crime of “entering auto” has always been a problem, and now it’s on the rise. The good news is that something can be done to slow it down, Covington said, and so a public information campaign to encourage citizens to “clean and lock” their cars was launched.

“Last week was just to remind people to take their items out and to lock their doors,” Covington said. “Now we’re back for phase two — to grade the car owners on how well they’ve followed the advice.”

On the initial checklist, residents are advised to remove from their cars items such as phones, laptop computers, book bags, briefcases, money and financial transaction cards, firearms and even GPS devices.

“I know it can be a little bit overbearing sometimes,” Covington said, “and it will take some repetition to remember those things. But at the same time, I’d rather you continue to take that stuff out than have to replace your car windows.”

While the “clean and lock” campaign is new, there have been other efforts to educate the public about auto break-ins, Covington said, and those efforts have helped lower the number of these crimes.

“When they reach out to the public, or go to the media, the rate does go down for a while,” said Phyllis Banks, spokeswoman for the APD. “That’s why we want to pound this massage, so that the phrase ‘clean and lock your vehicle’ pops up in your head. If it’s visible to us, it’s visible to the burglars.”