Preventing Larceny from a Vehicle

Preventing Larceny from a Vehicle (LMV)

Criminal's Viewpoint


  • Wide Variety of Merchandise - A vast array of property is often left inside parked vehicles.
    • Laptops, Tablets and other personal, portable electronics
    • Cell phones,
    • GPS devices,
    • After- market car stereo systems,
    • Video systems (often mounted in headrests),
    •  Purses and wallets
    • Clothing
    • Jewelry
    • Cameras

These are only a few in the list of potential targets often left in plain sight for “window shopping” criminals

  • Easy Shopping - It takes only a few seconds to check for an unlocked door, and less than a minute to break a vehicle’s window, and remove items left inside. Most often there are no witnesses.
  • Low Risk - A majority of the time LMV is a misdemeanor offense, meaning less time behind bars. Only on the third conviction can it become a felony.
  • Hard to catch in the act - Because thieves avoid crowded areas, they often pick vehicles parked in seclude, dark spots, where there are no witnesses.
  • Easy to Convert Stolen Items to CashPawn Shops and open street sales are often the quickest way to convert stolen property into cash. If items stolen are marked by the owner or the serial number recorded, it can often help identify stolen property, especially if it has been pawned. Unfortunately, the vast majority of stolen property is not marked, and the serial numbers have not been recorded. In these cases the property is never identified as stolen or able to be returned to its owner.

What You Can Do To Prevent Being A Victim

Lock, Take, Hide

  • Lock your vehicle - Yes, it takes seconds to break a window, but doing so makes noise – and criminals hate making noise. In many instances where victims left their vehicles unlocked (to prevent windows from being broken); the suspect broke the window anyway.
  • Take items with you - If a criminal doesn’t see anything, they’re less likely to break in, and will often go to the next vehicle to window shop a softer target
  • Hide valuables from sightIf removing your valuables is not an option, remember to hide them BEFORE you park in the place you intend to leave your vehicle. If a criminal sees you put a laptop in the trunk, they may break in to access the trunk when you leave. The same advice applies for putting property under a seat. If a criminal sees you reaching under a seat, they’ll assume something is there and they may break in looking for property. 
  • Record serial numbers - of property you leave inside your vehicle. (proper documentation of personal property applies to all items not just those in your car)  Recorded serial numbers or owner applied numbers can often help identify stolen property and it makes it more likely the suspect can be identified if they pawn or attempt to pawn the item(s). Click Here for Operation ID, a DIY guide to documenting your valuables and recording your serial numbers.
  • Park in populated areas that are not secluded - Well lit parking lots, with good “sight lines”, make it more likely your vehicle is visible to the general public. Attended parking lots, monitored by uniformed or easily identifiable legitimate parking attendants, are ideal. Remember, criminals don't like witnesses.
  • After market car stereos - consider models with removable face plates. Take the face plate with you when your leave your vehicles.
  • Firearms

    Firearms left unattended in a vehicle can often become an unintended target for theft. Glove compartments, consoles and map pockets may seem like great hiding places for your weapon, but thieves know these hiding places too!. Another weapon on the streets, in the hands of criminals who aren’t legally supposed to have them is never a good thing.

For more on Responsible Firearm Ownership Click Here

There is no 100% way to prevent all crime. You can make yourself less likely to be a victim of Larceny from a Vehicle by following the above tips, and by using common sense. Simply locking your vehicle and removing property from inside is half the battle.

Remember, YOU are an important partner in the fight against crime.

Protect Against Theft