Summer car break-ins surge

by Town Reminder

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – A watchful resident tipping off police led to the arrest of a young thief scouring neighborhoods for valuable items Sunday.
Christopher Rivera, 20, of 46-48 Dakota Dr., Chicopee, was arrested June 9 at 2:38 a.m. after a Judd Avenue resident looked out a window and saw Rivera attempting to break into a car parked in the driveway.
The resident gave a rough description of Rivera to police who arrived within four minutes to the area.
Officer Christopher Roberts located Rivera near Searle Road and Waite Avenue. Rivera was carrying an iPad and stated it belonged to him.
When Roberts asked Rivera to type in the iPad passcode, Rivera said he couldn’t remember it.
Also on Rivera’s person were two cell phones, an iPod and a phone charger.
Roberts asked Rivera for the phone number to the cell phone in his possession. Rivera said he didn’t know the number because he has just found the phone on the ground.
A contact listed in the cell phone was called by Roberts. He asked for the name of the phone’s owner, who was not Rivera, but someone who lived on North Main Street in South Hadley.
The North Main Street resident owned a car which had been recently broken into.
Rivera was arrested and charged with larceny over $250, receiving stolen property over $250 and breaking and entering in the nighttime for a felony. He was transported to the Hampshire County House of Corrections where he was held on $500 bail.
Police are matching additional property recovered from Rivera with their owners.
“This is another example of why residents should take a simple precaution of locking their vehicles in the driveway,” said South Hadley Police Chief David LaBrie. “It’s unfortunate we have come to that.”
LaBrie gave credit to the resident who called police when he noticed Rivera attempting to break into a parked car.
“He did the right thing. Because of him, we were able to catch the thief,” said LaBrie.
Summer typically sees an uptick in break-ins to vehicles.
“The weather is warm and individuals are not hindered by snow and snow banks to walk through,” said South Hadley Police Lt. Steven Parentela.
Usually, those vehicles are left unlocked.
Seemingly minor errors, such as leaving a car unlocked or electronic device chargers in plain view, can result in major losses.
Items such as GPS navigation systems, iPods, sunglasses, digital cameras, purses and loose change are easy-to-grab items.
All can easily be stashed into a backpack.
These incidents are called crimes of opportunity. Unsuspecting motor vehicle owners often leave their cars unsecured, generally with valuable items left inside.
And sometimes, with the number of technological devices teens and even adults carry on their persons daily, its not uncommon for a device to get left behind in a console or slip out of a purse onto a car seat.
The best way to prevent a motor vehicle theft is to simply be aware that they do occur.
Items such as GPS devices, iPods, cell phones, after-market stereo systems and loose change are routinely taken, especially when a vehicle is left unlocked.
Why? Because the items are easy to carry and turn around into a quick buck. The items are typically pawned or traded for drugs or small amounts of cash.
Even a locked vehicle is enticing to a thief if valuables are left in sight.
These crimes are called “smash and grabs,” and as evidenced in the name, thieves will see an iPod sitting on a car seat, a GPS device in a window or a change drawer full of coin and break a car window to obtain the valuables.
Leaving these items out in the open is essentially an invitation for a thief, who usually doesn’t smash a car window just to rummage around inside.
Moreover, leaving a GPS window attachment adhered to a windshield, a suction cup mark or device battery charger plugged into an outlet advertises to a thief the motorist has something of value hidden inside the vehicle.
Should a resident ever see someone breaking into their vehicle, Parentela advises them to call police.
Provide a rough description of the thief, including gender, appearance and direction of travel.
If the thief drives away, relay the make, model and color of the getaway vehicle. A full or partial license plate is extremely helpful.
“At no time should a resident place themselves in danger to obtain these,” said Parentela.
The best way to protect oneself is to lock vehicles parked in driveways and streets. Residents should remove all valuable items each time the car is left unoccupied.