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Prevent thefts with common sense security

Police warn of crimes of opportunity


Sedalia Police are warning of more petty thefts, or “crimes of opportunity” occurring in Sedalia. Frequently you may read a crime report like this in the Democrat’s daily police reports:

9:46 a.m.: Officers responded to the 2500 block of Stephenson Avenue in reference to a theft from a vehicle. Around $68 worth of items were taken from a vehicle that was unlocked overnight. No suspects have been identified at this time. 

“Most of the thefts from vehicles that we see come from unlocked vehicles,” Cmdr. Joshua Howell of the Sedalia Police Department said. “We call it trying door handles, thieves will walk up and down streets and they'll try door handles, they find an open door and they'll go in, rummage around, usually steal inconsequential items like change and phone chargers. Obviously, if there's something of value in there and they find it, it's going to be gone, so we encourage people to not leave valuables in your vehicle.”

With vehicle thefts on the rise, securing valuables is very important. The commander has another warning about items left in cars.

“Do not leave firearms in vehicles locked or unlocked,” Howell warned. “If you do need to have valuables in the vehicle you can't remove, please lock the door. It's very rare that we see someone force entry into a vehicle to steal, only if something of value is in plain sight would they be tempted to break a window or forcibly enter. If all doors were locked, they would just keep moving until they found an unlocked car.”

Another crime of opportunity often seen in local police reports is bicycle thefts:

12:08 a.m.: Officers responded to the 1600 block of East Broadway Boulevard for a bicycle theft report. The caller stated that he rode his bike to the store and when he came out the bike was gone. Information was collected and a report was completed. 

“Bicycle theft is a big one,” Howell admitted. “If you have bicycles just laying out there available, people will take it as a form of transportation and then they just dump it when they don't need it anymore.”

As the weather gets nicer, people are out on the streets later into the evenings. Sometimes these late-nighters are committing petty crimes.

“That’s likely to pick up this summer,” Howell said. “We see an increase in that over the summer break when school is out. There are more youths that walk around late at night and the opportunity is there.”

Unfortunately, crime forces people to take security measures such as locking doors, cars, and sheds, removing valuables from porches and cars, and adding motion-sensor lights and even cameras.

“One thing people can use to help with this are these doorbell cameras or any form of cameras on the exterior of their house,” Howell said. “We’ve gotten a lot of good leads since they started being popular. A lot of times it's not the victim themselves, but maybe a neighbor has one and the suspect walks through their yard and they're caught on camera.”

Howell suggests networking with neighbors who also have doorbell cameras to share videos and compare notes.

“They have online networks where basically neighborhoods share their videos with each other,” Howell explained. “If there is a spree in an area, all the neighbors can compare notes and figure out where this person is going, where they came from, and they can see different angles.”

Police warn to secure vehicles or they may be reported as stolen as in this recent report:

9:07 a.m.: Officers responded to a business in the 100 block of Thompson Boulevard in reference to a stolen vehicle. A van belonging to the business was stolen overnight. The vehicle was later recovered in the 2600 block of East Broadway Boulevard. The catalytic converter had been removed. No suspects have been identified at this time.

“Diesel trucks are being stolen,” Howell said. “A lot of diesel pickups. A lot of trailers have been stolen lately, so make sure you put one of those locking mechanisms on the hitch, and then catalytic converter thefts are starting to go up a little. They’ve been quelled for quite a while, but we’re starting to see an increase in those.”

Sometimes an ounce of prevention may be as easy as simply locking a door.


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