Lock doors, avoid car hopping

This surveillance photo shows an actual teenage thief checking a vehicle's doors to see if it's unlocked during a recent incident of “car hopping” at a residence near Pauls Valley. (Courtesy of Garvin County Sheriff's Office)

One Garvin County official is reminding area motorists the best way to keep their vehicles from being the target of a new wave of thefts is to simply lock the doors.

According to Sheriff Larry Rhodes, that's important because finding unlocked doors on vehicles is the goal of a new craze sweeping the country called car hopping.

In this case it's not a reference to a drive-in restaurant but instead the act of suspects, typically teenagers, checking vehicles to see which ones have an unlocked door.

It's a wave that really hasn't hit Pauls Valley, but Rhodes says there was a recent case of car hopping just outside of town that resulted in the arrests of four teenagers.

“Apparently it's pretty common for some juveniles and teens,” Rhodes said about the car hopping thing in other parts of the country.

“We've got people running around trying car doors. If they find one unlocked they go in and look for what they can find.

“They talk about it like it's something that's common for juveniles,” he said about online reports.

The definition of car hopping, as shown online, is when thieves steal valuables from multiple vehicles in the same area, quickly moving from one vehicle to another.

Thieves look for accessible marks, such as cars with unlocked doors or convertibles with the top down.

It's also typically done where there are multiple vehicles in close proximity to each other, such as in a parking lot.

The sheriff stresses these aren't break-ins as instead it involves thieves checking car doors to see which ones are unlocked.

Once inside thieves typically look for loose change, sunglasses and other small items they can easily and quickly take. In some cases it's a lot of money from a lot of change inside an unlocked vehicle.

“The number one thing is people need to lock their cars,” Rhode said.

“Those days of leaving your car doors open and it being safe are over.

“People need to get in the practice of locking your car doors. Maybe we can put a stop to this.”

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