Cops Waking Up Drivers Who Leave Cellphones, GPS And Other Valuables In Their Cars

If you live in Richmond, VA, and have a habit of leaving your phone, GPS device or some other valuable item in your car, don’t be surprised if you’re woken up in the middle of the night by your local police officer.

In an attempt to curb lax behavior that all but invites criminals to steal your stuff, officers in five Richmond neighborhoods are shining their lights at the front and back seats of cars parked on the street between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.

When a cop spots a valuable item out in the open, they will check the registration info for the vehicle to see if the owner lives nearby. If so, the officer will perform a “wake-up call” to let people know their items are just waiting to be stolen.

The police lieutenant behind the initiative understands that some people will not be too thrilled to be rousted out of bed by a police officer at the door, but says, “It is my hope that the officers will explain to the residents the reason for this ‘inconvenient intrusion’ and that the residents will appreciate the reasoning behind it.”

The wake-up call program is a step further than a similar initiative undertaken by police in Beverly, MA, last fall. In that instance, officers checked for cars that had been left unlocked; if they found one, they would lock the doors and leave a warning on the window.

RPD to make “wake up calls” to cut crime []


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  1. Grogey says:

    Whats the term? An ounce of prevention?

  2. Hi_Hello says:

    i say, let their stuff get stolen.

    • Grogey says:

      I think this sort of plan actually has allot of benefits for the people of the city. They meet there local cops, not in a bad way. When I say bad way one its not like there in trouble and the officer is only try to help them by preventing the crime anyways.

      I will say, if I was woken up in this matter I would be a little P’od but hopefully I would realize the police are only looking out for me.

      • eturowski says:

        1.) A lot.
        2.) Their.
        3.) It’s.
        4.) They’re.

        Aren’t you glad the grammar police are looking out for you, too? :)

        • Torgonius wants an edit button says:

          You need to make that correction live and in person between the hours of midnight and 4 AM.

      • Hi_Hello says:

        the people who leave their stuff in their car don’t want to be told about it or don’t listen when told about it.

        I don’t think a police officer will change their mind.

        I know a lot of people and warn a lot of people about it. they don’t care. Then their car was broken into and they stop doing it.

        If the cops really want to help them, they should have take the devices. Wait until a police report is filed and give it back to them.

    • eturowski says:

      Hear, hear. Don’t waste my tax dollars to protect people who don’t care enough to look out for themselves.

      • The Twilight Clone says:

        Right. Make my car and/or home insurance premium increase instead. Brilliant!

        • az123 says:

          Lets see…. Police will not actually go hunt down stuff from this, the most they will do is fill out a report. And most likely the value of the stuff is under what your insurance will pay for… and it is your premium that will go up if your car is busted into, not in general everyone’s (unless the break ins are happening all the time, in which case your car is getting busted into anyway).

          Oh and auto insurance will often not cover the value of items in the car if it is broken into…. So let them have their crap taken and learn the lesson

          • Anathema777 says:

            Except that more break-ins in a certain area can mean higher insurance premiums for people that live there, even if they’re not the ones leaving the stuff in their car that attracts thieves.

          • jumpycore says:

            from what i understand, if you have home owners insurance they will cover valuables stolen from cars.

      • Anathema777 says:

        Right. Waste your tax dollars to track it down after it’s been stolen instead of trying to prevent the problem in the first place.

        • GaijenSoft says:

          Haha, that’s funny. Like police actually do more than just take a report for that kind of stuff.

          • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

            hey, when my house got burglarized and i scoured craigslist for my belongings, i found a computer monitor that matched mine and faxed it to the detective. he actually emailed the seller and verified the serial number to make sure it wasn’t mine. presuming the seller was honest….
            but see, he did a little bit of work. or at least emailed me back and lied about working

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            If you think tax dollars aren’t spent on the tracking of all the cases people bring to police, you’re a moron.

            If if no cop ever performs a followup, it’s still a mountain of paperwork and initial manhours just to log all the information in for all those petty crimes.

            • jeffbone says:

              If they even bother to take a report, that is. I had a in-dash stereo stolen from my *locked* car parked at my home in a DC suburb a couple of years ago. County police refused to even take a report, let alone actually send someone out to investigate…even though two of my neighbors also had valuables stolen from their vehicles the same night.

              Plenty of time for the cops to sit on the side of the road to collect revenue, though. My tax dollars at work.

          • Anathema777 says:

            Some cops do follow up. I know from experience. And I’m not saying that I even agree with this campaign; I think there are a ton of better ways to handle this. I’m just saying that spending tax dollars on prevention isn’t a bad thing.

    • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

      …these people knew what they were getting into when they bought their cars.

  3. AcctbyDay says:

    You know, unless of course someone leaves their doors unlocked on purpose. I’m pretty sure locking peoples doors for them violates something. I’m not lawyer… but jeez – nanny state much? Good intentions, but come on?

    Separately, couldn’t the man hours they are spending trolling through neighborhoods be spent ya know *fighting crime*.


    • Bort says:

      one could say they are looking to prevent crime, how is that less noble?

    • IphtashuFitz says:

      Huh? The cops aren’t touching the car, much less any doors. They’re simply looking inside cars to see if any valuables are visible. If there are then they attempt to identify the owner and go knock on the owners door. How is this a violation of anything? Last I checked, anything left out in the open in public view is there for anybody to look at.

      And how is this *not* fighting crime? They’re trying to prevent crime by doing this.

      • az123 says:

        Um, you needs to learns how to reads the entire article and see that the person is actually talking about the other program where they would lock doors that is cited in it…..

        • nicless says:

          You needs to?! Really?

        • Yomiko says:

          Yeah, I’ve been to Beverly, MA (a lot). There’s no crime there, unless you count the teenagers smoking pot, so the cops might as well find something to do.

          • axhandler1 says:

            Why would the cops be interested in finding other things to do if there are plenty of teenagers they can bust for pot? Easy arrests, get to put those “punk kids” in their place, and little or no effort required of them. The officers in my town have made a career out of it. Hey, who cares if an arrest record screws up a kid’s life far more than experimenting with weed ever will? They’re just doing their job, after all.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      Separately, couldn’t the man hours they are spending trolling through neighborhoods be spent ya know *fighting crime*.

      Crime prevention falls within the purview of normal and acceptable modern policing functions.

      Besides, the cops don’t know where or when the next *crime* is going to take place any more than you do. Except for traffic enforcement, they are a reactionary force for the most part.

      Now having said all that, I think a different approach might be better. Note the date/time/location/items and use the DMV info to send the person a letter instead of beating on their door in the middle of the night.

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        Oh, I know where the next crime is going to take place. I’m stealing Cat’s car.

    • Cat says:

      I had a car once that I had lost the key for, buy the ignition was worn and would allow you to start the car without the key. It was a real POS car so I wasn’t too concerned about it being stolen.

      But if the police locked it for me, I’d be pissed. I’m stuck with no way to open it, and my bong is under the seat…

    • Minj says:

      I have a convertible. I would NEVER lock my car door. Anyone can get in there and check all they want for valuables. I would much rather they do that than have to replace a torn convertible top.

    • SteveHolt says:

      “Fighting crime”? They’re not Batman. Prevention is a great way to fight crime. If a cop wakes you up in the middle of the night because you left your GPS in full view, you’ll never forget to hide it again.

      • Cor Aquilonis says:

        I would also not forget to get the officer’s number, file a formal complaint, then create a ten mile wide blast radius of stink about it to every damn person in my city’s government, followed by the most raging letter to the editor campaign since the civil rights movement. Then I would see if I could mobilize my local Tea Party Crazies.

        I hate it when my sleep is interrupted.

    • dilbert69 says:

      I once saw a parked car with its lights on and no one in sight. Fortunately, the door was unlocked, so I opened it, turned off the lights, and shut it, but I didn’t lock it.

  4. Anelaidlives says:

    I can understand locking the door if you leave it unlocked, but it seems like this method would be more problem than its worth.

    • KyBash says:

      When I lived in Detroit, I quickly learned to leave my doors unlocked (it’s better letting them rummage through the car and not find anything than to have to replace a window).

      When I lived in a small town, I quickly learned to always lock my doors, otherwise I’d be likely to find a sack of zucchini, tomatoes, or other “we planted too much” sitting on my front seat.

      • personwholives says:

        Dude, I wanna live in a town where I get vegetables hand delivered to my car in the middle of the night! Especially tomatoes, I’d be rollin’ in salsa all season long.

        • KyBash says:

          It wasn’t the middle of the night — I could come back to find 60 pounds of zucchini and 30 pounds of tomatoes in the car if I had to wait in line at the post office. Unless you’re a commercial canner, you couldn’t possibly use 1% of the stuff.

  5. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    I think a 911 call would be in order – “Somebody’s going around our neighborhood shining their lights in cars. I think they’re trying to steal stuff.”

    Annoy them until they stop this foolishness.

  6. teke367 says:

    Do GPS units count as “valuables” still? I think mine cost $40 a year or two ago.

    And if I left my cell phone in my car, good lucking calling me.

    • floyd fan says:

      Not so much the GPS unit itself, but if the crooks don’t see that your car is unlocked and they bust a window over your GPS, the window will cost $$.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Someone stole my five-year-old, $40-when-it-was-new, known-issue-overheating radio out of my car. They broke one window, broke the lock on the passenger door, broke the dashboard, and cracked the moulding on the dash.

      • humphrmi says:

        Yeah but that’s unrelated to this. The police aren’t waking people up and saying “Did you know that you left your radio mounted into your dashboard overnight?”

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      One of my friends told me that crooks steal GPS units not for the unit themselves, but for the home address programmed inside. If you’re in another town, and your car and GPS are somewhere else, chances are the house is vacant, leaving you open for robbery.

      I have no idea if this is true. Just to be on the safe side, the home address in my GPS unit is the county courthouse, where the sheriff’s office is located.

      • jeadly says:

        So they steal the GPS while you’re on vacation and then take a road trip to wherever you’re from to break into your house?

  7. txhoudini says:

    Hey cops, Spend your time catching people breaking the law, not harassing law abiding citizens.

    • Cleo256 says:

      Seriously. At least the people stealing my stuff aren’t going to interrupt my sleep. They’ll just take it and run off.

    • aaron8301 says:

      THIS. I’m somewhat of an insomniac, so I have a hard enough time getting enough sleep as it is. Wake me up for something this stupid, and I’d be PISSED.

      Also, there are thousands of dollars worth of stuff in my vehicle worth stealing. ALL OF IT is attached to the vehicle, and cannot be taken out like a GPS or cell phone (head unit, amplifiers, speakers, subwoofers, capacitors, etc.).

      Stop wiping the asses of stupid people. There are MUCH better things for cops to be doing between 00:00 and 04:00. Or are our precious cell phones and GPS units more important than the murdering of innocent people by drunk drivers? Alcohol-related crashes are about five times more likely to happen at night. Midnight to 4am is THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.

      This PD is a joke, wasting resources on very low priority crimes when they could be preventing deaths.

      • RxDude says:

        Agreed. One of my top personal rules is “Don’t fuck with my sleep.” It’s a remnant of the years I spent working swing shifts. If a cop knocked on my door at 2 AM just to tell me I had left an object in my car, which I most likely knew damn well I had left in my car, they would not get a warm welcome.

  8. comedian says:

    Evolotion of coppers in the USA

    Peace Officers –> Police Officers –> Law Enforcement Officers –> Breach of Peace Officers

  9. az123 says:

    I cannot wait to see how the public outcry gets this stopped…. They did a thing here once where the police would pull people over who were good drivers to a noticeable extent and give them movie passes and say good job… People were livid about it and the thing lasted for about a week.

    After a few midnight door knocks waking dogs kids and neighbors up I suspect the police are going to find that this was a bad idea to implement. If people want to leave their stuff where it can be taken then it is their life lesson to be learned.

    On the door locking thing, I had an old car where the door locks did not work so well from the outside, I would be sending the local police a bill for the locksmith getting my door open!

    Often the police have good intentions but do not think the practicality of their actions through

    • RvLeshrac says:

      The problem with pulling people over is that you may be destroying someone’s life. My boss doesn’t give a flying fuck if I was pulled over for being a good driver, all he cares about is that I was 1 minute late for work.

  10. dolemite says:

    “Well, I could be out catching criminals, but let me go accost these law abiding citizens instead.”

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

      So they have less chance catching criminals if they are out patrolling the neighborhoods than driving around at 25-50 mph? More chance hearing breaking glass while walking.

  11. backstagebethy says:

    RVA cops also recently went around leaving “Violation?” brochures under windshield wipers alerting people about recent auto break-ins. Left one on my car in a parking lot where two car windows had been busted. I thought it was a nice service, till the lot was littered with bright green brochures from people who’d dropped them as they got in the car. It’s always something, I guess.

  12. rtwest says:

    Yes, let’s babysit American citizens even more, so they can find new ways to be sloppy and careless about things that should be (or, at least, used to be) common sense.

    People are always confused about why I HOPE humanity ends soon.

  13. ash says:

    I would rather have something stolen from my car than have police officers spending their time looking in cars and scaring the heck out of ppl by knocking on their door at night.

  14. CalicoGal says:

    Can’t they just leave a pre-printed note on the windshield like other jurisdictions?

    • Anathema777 says:

      I think that’s a worse idea than waking people up. It’s basically labeling the cars with “the good stuff”

  15. balance776 says:

    somehow I doubt their actual intentions. It would seem this is just giving the beat cops a new method to look for anything illegal in plain site, and a reason to run plates at random.

  16. axhandler1 says:

    What about the people whose policy it is to shoot first and ask questions later when an univited person comes knocking on their door at 4 in the morning?

    • rtwest says:

      Maybe they should be “cautious” instead of “paranoid”?

    • Doubting thomas says:

      those people go to a place called prison. I am from TX, and even our gun laws don’t allow you to shoot someone for knocking on your door.

  17. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    The only time I ever want to talk to a cop is if he’s done his job and prevented a crime from happening. Waking me up at 3 in the morning and acting like my mom is not their job.

    Cops need to be cops, not power-tripping bully morality nanny police.

  18. Onesnap says:

    If anyone knocks on my door in the middle of the night and they are not a blood relative they will not get the door answered. #PeepHoles

    If a cop is knocking on the door in the middle of the night and it’s something like this (versus notice that someone died or I need to vacate the area due to a giant fire) they are getting a formal complaint down at the station, a blog post in my town’s blog (penned by me), and a topic of conversation at the next town meeting. No joke.

  19. Alliance to Restore the Republic of the United States of America says:

    This is probably a precedent to cops going around handing out tickets for registration stickers at 3am.

  20. sirwired says:

    This is a bit stupid. I stayed in a hotel once, and all the cops did when seeing the GPS on my dash was to put an easy-to-remove clear sticker on the window asking me to kindly put away my valuables when leaving the car.

    Makes a lot more sense than waking me up.

  21. CalicoGal says:

    Um, most people think someone’s dead when a cop knocks on their door at 3am….
    not nice to scare people like this…

  22. Minj says:

    What are they going to do next? Go around and check to see if house doors and windows are locked?

    I would be livid if police woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me that they didn’t like the way I was living, even though it breaks no law.

  23. Anathema777 says:

    I understand the cops’ intentions here, but this seems like a really dumb idea. If they want to do a public service campaign about the issue, I think there are better ways of handling it. And if they want to personally approach people to let them know about break-ins in the area and give them some tips on how to prevent them, I think that could work. But do it in the daytime.

    • homehome says:

      I keep seeing ppl say better ways but not giving examples. Ppl aren’t home during the day so that’d be a waste of time.

      • Anathema777 says:

        People are often home on weekends or in the early evening. So an in-person visit might make sense then. They could also do a flier campaign — with information about the rise in break ins and tips on how to lower your risk of being burglarized — and put them in people’s doors. Or they could contact the local newspaper to run a story on the topic.

      • RickScarf says:

        People not home during the day doesn’t mean they should get people up at 3am

  24. bluline says:

    While I applaud the proactive steps taken by the police, why not just leave a note in the door instead of scaring people half to death with a middle-of-the-night banging on the door?

  25. Press1forDialTone says:

    This is truly going above and beyond serving the
    community if you ask me. Any boob that leaves any
    valuables in plain sight even in a locked car deserves
    to have them taken. Is the entire world just completely
    dumbing down. Then when the stuff is taken they are
    so indignant that the police should be protecting them
    from their own stupidity.

  26. Professor59 says:

    Locking someone’s door can be an issue. People in high crime areas leave doors unlocked intentionally so thieves don’t break their windows just to see that there’s nothing valuable inside. Wish it wasn’t true, but…

  27. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Our local police are always putting announcements in the paper reminding people not to leave valuables in their cars, and to lock the doors. Every week there are reports of all sorts of things being stolen out of cars. I doubt the prescription drug ones, though, since it’s always painkillers, and if I had good painkillers I’d be danged if I’d leave them in my car. I suspect they were stolen, but taken or sold, and the person wanted a new script.

    I don’t lock my vehicle. There’s nothing in it of any value, and the last thing I want is my window broken out so someone can get a home ripped CD from the console.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      not stolen – still no edit button!!

  28. dilbert69 says:

    This is absurd. Every adult knows it’s not a good idea to leave valuables in a car at night, though most of us forget from time to time. The police should solve crimes, not harass people who’ve broken no law.

  29. Cerne says:

    The Lt who thought this up should be fired and any officers who were involved should loose a day’s pay. At the very least. This is a massive intrusion by the state.

  30. Mike says:

    Is this a ploy to get the mayor voted out of office?

  31. framitz says:

    I kind of like the law on unlocked vehicles in Germany.

    When I lived there, there was a fine of 5 Marks for each unlocked door.
    And if one door was unlocked the thinking was that they might as well all be unlocked so you were fined 5 Marks per door. 4 door hatch backs were 25 DM.

    Didn’t notice many unlocked cars there, and never heard of any theft from vehicles at all.

  32. gman863 says:

    Once, I made the mistake of leaving a broken notebook PC on the back seat of my car. Although it was pretty much worthless, it would have made a great target for a thief who didn’t know this.

    Instead of becoming a crime statistic, I got a 6 AM wakeup call from the head of my HOA security patrol (an off duty Harris County Sherriff’s Deputy who is also a customer at my PC repair shop). He half-jokingly asked me if I wanted to keep the computer or let a thief have it.

    Lesson learned (without having to spend hundreds of $$$ to replace a broken car window).

    +1 to the cops.

  33. Froggee285 says:

    If they can deter the crime, then it won’t happen…and if theres an area of town where idiots are always leaving things in their cars unlocked, then theives will frequent that area, and worse things might happen. My personal opinion is that if you are dumb enough to leave valuables in plain sight in an unlocked car, you don’t deserve the valuables…but, I don’t want theives in my area either, just becasue my neighbors are morons. So, late night calls, thats a cute idea. Maybe even just locking the car, and leaving a note (the police were here) might get the idea across too.

    Last Friday (good friday actually) I was reading by an open window in my upstairs apartment, and I overhear some kids down in the parking lot. They were around middle school aged, looking into cars and checking doors to see if they were locked. It was a bit after noon. They were near my car (locked) and then started walking toward it with a purpose, it seemed. (As a side note, I am a middle school teacher, and don’t trust 12 year olds at all)
    Anyways, so I opened my window and made it obvious I was looking at them, and they did that “Innocent Walk away”, and had these totally guilty faces on…something I see as a teacher often. They left the lot and were watching me from around the other buildings, I suppose to see if I was still looking. I took their picture with my camera and called the police, and I honestly didn’t think anything would happen, but to my shock a cop car, plus two undercovers in really beat up cars came, and got the little jerks. They were not arrested, as they were not technically stealing anything, but they were brought back to their parent’s apartments and according to the cop, were crying and were severley warned. He thanked me for looking out and calling, and seemed to be amused at the fact that the kids were crying.

  34. dirtrat says:

    I wouldn’t even answer the door, Screw them!

  35. impatientgirl says:

    That’s my vehicle and my items and I have the right to leave them in my vehicle wherever I choose. Doing so does not condone someone breaking into my vehicle to steal from me and it should not be cause for a policeman to come to my home and intrude upon my privacy. This program is RIDICULOUS. They should be focusing on the thieves instead. What’s next, are they going to find women walking alone at night and yell at them that they could be the victim of a mugging or sexual assault and shouldnt be out alone like that?!

  36. eddison72 says:

    The hell with them. They want to complain about cops waking them up to prevent robbery? “Oh boo hoo hoo it would wake up my precious diaper filler!!” Just let their windows get smashed in and their fancy gadgets get stolen, then wake them up for that instead. Job security! Whiners.

  37. GrandizerGo says:

    Why do I see this as really starting this way….

    Loser officer sees SMOKING hot woman drive by, follows, wants an excuse to meet her. Checks in car when she is asleep and finds a bogus reason to wake her up in her night clothes to answer the door. Has to do it this way as MOST jurisdictions do NOT allow officers to run plates for no reason anymore. And plates run are supposed to be logged to see who is running them.

    Gets called out by person / husband of smoking hot woman. They complain to the precinct. Loser cops just says he is trying to be PROACTIVE in stopping crime.

    Seems funny to me though…
    If this neighborhood you are patrolling has so many thefts, why is it you are incapable of catching the thieves?
    Seems like you have the time frame down pat. Easy Peasy set up a bait vehicle and catch the perps.

  38. Libertas says:

    “Fuck off”…./doorslam

  39. 132_and_bush says:

    I worked security for a hospital a few years back. One day, our genius supervisor decided to be pro active about people leaving expensive stuff in plain sight. He decided to order these flyers that we were to place on the windshields of cars that had expensive items out in the open. However, the program never took off when I asked him why we were going to announce to burglars which cars had the best stuff in them. Personally, if you leave your crap out in the open where anyone can see it, you deserve to get your stuff stolen. You’re an idiot. And yeah, I know. You should be able to leave your stuff out in the open without fear of theft. But that’s not how the world works. There are bad people and you are responsible for the safety of yourself, your family and your property. That’s why you look both ways when you cross at the the marked crosswalk with your kids.