Year-round, thieves target vehicles to either steal them or steal from them. These reports can increase when the weather warms, during holiday season, or whenever an individual or group targets neighborhoods in Howard County. These crimes occur in a variety of neighborhoods, but thieves typically target high-density residential areas, typically during the overnight to early-morning hours.
We encourage you to report any theft from vehicle to police, including if your vehicle has been tampered with but nothing has been stolen. This helps us track trends and identify suspects. You can make a report online or by calling the non-emergency number at 410-313-2200. For thefts in progress, call 911.
You can take steps to make yourself less likely to be victimized. Here’s how:
- Always lock your vehicle. In some cases thieves break car windows, but often, they bypass locked vehicles after checking the door handles. We have seen this on home security camera video residents have provided to officers.
- Do not leave keys or key fobs inside your vehicle or leave your vehicle running unattended. We have seen “jump-in” vehicle thefts in which a thief steals a vehicle left running at a gas station or in a driveway. But a majority of other vehicle thefts occur because keys or key fobs are left in a vehicle.
- Do not leave valuables in plain sight, or in your car at all – even for a brief time. We have seen thieves steal from vehicles at gas stations while the victim is inside the business. Wallets, purses, and electronics such as laptops and tablets are the most common valuables stolen. Thieves will use a stolen credit card as soon as they can, often to purchase gift cards.
- Park in a well-lit area or inside your garage if you have one and close your garage doors. Thieves have entered open garages and stolen vehicles and items out of vehicles.
- Additional security measures, such as vehicle tracking system/ GPS, vehicle security systems, and a steering wheel/column lock also can be effective deterrents.
Additional protections include:
- Get your VIN etched. Have HCPD engrave your car's VIN on all major pieces of glass. This is a free event offered by HCPD. Check the calendar for dates/times.
- Register for "Watch Your Car." This free, voluntary vehicle registration program, administered by the Maryland Vehicle Theft Prevention Council, is designed to deter auto theft and assist in the apprehension of thieves. For more information about the "Watch Your Car" program, go to Maryland State Police website.
- Report a lost fob. If you lose a key fob, immediately contact the dealership to get a reprogrammed one, otherwise the lost fob will still allow a thief access to your vehicle.
- Use Transaction Safe Place. Need a safe place to handle a transaction you arranged online, such as the sale of a car or motorcycle? Designated parking spaces, marked with yellow signs, are available at both HCPD district stations and the community outreach building. These areas are video recorded 24/7/365.