In the past few months, there has been report after report of car break-ins or car thefts in the western suburbs. In many cases, the theft might be of something small such as loose change, but there have been reports of purses and other valuables being stolen. Many of the cars have been found in Cleveland or other places.

One car was a $98,000 Porsche. Others might not have that monetary value, but they mean as much to the owners.

In most cases, the cars were unlocked. And in many of the incidents, not only were the cars unlocked, but the keys were inside.

The police are doing their best, but they need some help. There are many things people can do.

First, lock your car. Why make it easy to get inside? If they're going to break in, make them do some work. Perhaps the sound will help catch them.

Second, take your valuables inside. If you have time to take yourself inside, find the time to take anything of value in. If you must leave something behind, put it in your trunk.

Third, take your keys in with you. There is no reason to leave your keys in your car. Keys aren't that heavy, and you can leave them in a safe spot inside your house. Leaving them in an unlocked car in an area that is ripe with the efforts of thieves does not make sense.

Fourth, keep your windows closed completely. A thief can simply reach into your car through an open window — taking what they can reach or unlocking the door to gain full access to your vehicle and everything in it.

Fifth, invest in a motion-activated light that will be triggered if someone approaches your car.

If you can (this can be tip five-and-a-half) get a motion-activated camera. Remember the old Candid Camera? You get the idea.

If you see anyone suspicious, alert the police. If you can get a photo or a license plate number, that will help. Police can't patrol every street, every minute.

Most of these thefts are taking place during the late hours of the night. If you awaken in the night, check outside. Just look out a window, without turning on a light.

There have been some reports of attempted break-ins of houses. Of course, if you suspect someone is attempting to break into your home, immediately call the police.

If the worst happens and your car is stolen, contact the police immediately. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says you may need to provide the following information to the police:

The year, make, model and color of the car

License plate number

Vehicle Identification Number (also called the “VIN”)

You’ll also want to let your insurance company know within 24 hours if your vehicle has been stolen, says the NHTSA.

Do not attempt to stop any thiefs face to face. Stay safe. It's better to be an alive person who calls for help than to get hurt or worse by being a hero.

We need to work together, hand in hand, to help end this plague of thefts in our community.

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