Crime Prevention Spotlight

Combating Thefts from Automobiles

Submitted by Lieutenant Damion L. Taylor of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.
Metropolitan Police Officer leaving a brochure on the window of an unlocked vehicle

Ultimately, thefts from automobiles (TFAs) are crimes of opportunity. In some cases, targets appear so enticing that individuals not seeking to commit a crime decide to do so after recognizing a lucrative opportunity to appropriate another person’s valuables or other property without notice or detection. Potential victims can avoid these costly crimes by storing valuables properly and safeguarding their vehicles and other belongings.

The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., First District, has redirected resources to address these infamous crimes. On February 14, 2017, first district officers targeted an area known for TFAs. They spent hours in several communities to enhance their presence, make contact with motorists and vehicle owners, educate community members, and identify potential targets of crime.

Officers examined hundreds of vehicles in the first district, finding over a dozen with unlocked doors and valuables in plain sight. They secured the vehicles and placed notices on them to alert owners of these vulnerabilities. The goal was to raise awareness of these problems to owners and the general public.

Vehicle owners responded and were greeted by the officers. They also received TFA pamphlets to learn how to better protect their vehicles from theft and tampering.

Through these efforts, the officers hope that people will respond by taking further efforts to protect and secure their valuables and other property.

TFA Prevention Pamphlet (pdf)

TFA Notification (pdf)

CD Case on Dashboard of Automobile
Spare Change in Plain Sight in Automobile
Purse on floorboard of automobile

Lieutenant Taylor can be reached at