Ocean City Today

Addicts blamed for spike in thefts

By Katie Tabeling | Oct 26, 2017
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(Oct. 27, 2017) Reports of thefts from cars continue to rise this year, and Ocean City Police believe it’s another sign that opiate use in the resort is getting worse.

“We know it can be tied to the opiate epidemic because several suspects have admitted to stealing the items and selling them to support their drug habit,” Police Public Affairs Specialist Lindsay Richard said this week. “We track the reports almost religiously, and we see that anything that can be stolen from a car, has.”

As of Oct. 16, police had received 145 reports of thefts from cars — a 50 percent increase by that point in 2016. In total, 104 incidents were reported last year.

Thirty-six of this year’s reports resulted in arrests. Often suspects will steal from several vehicles at a time, Richard said, so some incidents could have involved just one or two perpetrators.

For example, police believe two suspects may have been involved in a rash of thefts from numerous vehicles in September.

“We’re finding that suspects are taking anything they can from a vehicle, from loose change, electronics, even paperwork and fingernail clippers,” Richard said.

Ocean City Police found that most thefts from vehicle are crimes of opportunity, as thieves will often walk down a row of parked cars looking for unlocked doors. Only a few thefts involved people physically breaking into cars.

In 70 percent of the reports made in September, the car doors were unlocked, Richard said.

“We strongly encourage citizens to always lock their car doors, even if you’re steps away from your home or you’re gone for ‘just a second,’” she said. “At the very least, remove anything that could be stolen from the vehicle.”

Ocean City Police also advise residents to never leave their windows down while they are away from the vehicles, avoid leaving packages and shopping bags in plain view.

Police recommend that motorists place valuables out of sight before they reach their destinations, since doing so upon arrival could reveal their location to criminals who are watching.

Drivers should make sure their car alarm is working, and to not leave spare keys in the vehicle.

Citizens who have become the victim of a vehicle break-in should call Ocean City Police immediately. In that case, residents should be prepared to describe the stolen items and to list their license plate number, VIN number and insurance information.

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