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    Police Leave Warnings Inside Unlocked Cars

    What do you think? Me, not in favor. I don't like the concept as a citizen and I'm only seeing downsides in this for individual police officers. I can see the benefit for someone whose bonus/promotion/election is helped by waving a spreadsheet showing X crimes are down at the next press conference. Am I being too cynical?


    Police Leave Warnings Inside Unlocked Cars On North Shore


    If your car door was unlocked, or an officer spotted your GPS, wallet, or something important in plain view, you might have found a warning on your windshield in Beverly this weekend.

    Police were willing to stir-up a little proactive controversy to warn folks they were easy targets for some very busy thieves. Any car doors they found unlocked they opened up and locked themselves for the owner. They admit they did get some angry calls from drivers who left their keys inside their unlocked cars.

    Rest at site even though RightHaven scumbags are being pushed back for lawsuits on copying full article texts for discussions.

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    Maybe they could do a courtesy check of all the fluids and tire pressure too. Low tire pressure robs you of gas every time!


    When I lived in a small town everyone left their keys in their car and never locked doors to their homes.
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    213th's Avatar
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    Sorry but they have no more business going into an unlocked car then an unlocked home. If I'm going to be a dumbass and leave my car unlocked, then let me suffer the consequences.

    I'm also going to throw this out there, what if you see something illegal (drugs or whatever) in plain sight? Would this effect any future case? What if someone else has already stolen something from that vehicle? You have now been in that vehicle, left a note telling them that. That puts you in the vehicle that has items stolen from it, and I for one would not want the hassle of trying to explain that one.
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    Five-0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    Sorry but they have no more business going into an unlocked car then an unlocked home. If I'm going to be a dumbass and leave my car unlocked, then let me suffer the consequences.

    I'm also going to throw this out there, what if you see something illegal (drugs or whatever) in plain sight? Would this effect any future case? What if someone else has already stolen something from that vehicle? You have now been in that vehicle, left a note telling them that. That puts you in the vehicle that has items stolen from it, and I for one would not want the hassle of trying to explain that one.

    If a car is in someone's driveway, garage with the door open, ect sure. Parked on the street, what expectation of privacy does a person have?

    See California v. Greenwald 486 U.S. 5 (1988)

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzV5AIK8iM
    "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat

    "Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway

    The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com

  5. #5
    213th's Avatar
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    Moreover, Greenwood had left the trash there expressly so that the trash collector, a stranger, could take it.
    The way I see it, that is where the difference lies. The car is not intended to be used or removed by anyone else. It is still private property, regardless of where it is parked. It may be a public street, but that doesn't make the car public property because it sits there. I think the best correlation I can draw would be to a roadside mailbox. It sits within the road easement, but is not locked. Just because the city has easement rights, does not give them permission to open the mailbox.


    But regardless of whether or not it is technically legal, it is still a bad idea. If for no other reason then if something has already been stolen from that vehicle, then you can be put in a pretty tough spot. As far as I know there are no laws requriing a vehicle be locked, so why are we monitoring and controlling legal activity of citizens?
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
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    He who makes the rules, has the power.
    He who has the power, has the money.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    As far as I know there are no laws requriing a vehicle be locked, so why are we monitoring and controlling legal activity of citizens?

    Section 32-5A-50

    Unattended motor vehicle.

    No person driving or in charge of a motor vehicle shall permit it to stand unattended without first stopping the engine, locking the ignition, removing the key from the ignition, effectively setting the brake thereon and, when standing upon any grade, turning the front wheels to the curb or side of the highway.

    Do people need a laws to be told not to be a dumbass?

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzV5AIK8iM
    "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat

    "Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway

    The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    Sorry but they have no more business going into an unlocked car then an unlocked home. If I'm going to be a dumbass and leave my car unlocked, then let me suffer the consequences.

    Okay, so that means if someone enters your car after leaving it unlocked and steals all your valuables- or even the car itself what do you do?

    You call the police.

    The police open a case.

    The case gets assigned to a detective.

    The detective has to take time away from the dozens, if not hundreds, of other cases he's working to investigate yours. Taking time and energy away from investigating other cases like burglaries, home invasions, armed robberies, or even murder.

    My point is this: You won't be the only one to suffer the consequences. Unless of course you don't plan on reporting it to the police. And while that may be your decision, I can promise you it won't be the decision of the vast majority of theft victims.

    An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of the cure.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." -Gen. George S. Patton

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    Does insurance cover theft of a vehicle that was unlocked with the keys inside?
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ducky View Post
    Does insurance cover theft of a vehicle that was unlocked with the keys inside?


    I bet it does. Just like irresponsible driving habits will lead to higher rates and getting dropped, so will irresponsible behavior that leads to any other claims. When I do Unlawful Breaking/Entering Vehicle reports I have to mark the method of entry using one of three boxes.

    No force used
    Forcible Entry
    Attempted Force

    The insurance companies can see that when they look at the report that they will require for a claim. In the narrative I document that the vehicle was not secure for the benefit of investigators.

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzV5AIK8iM
    "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat

    "Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway

    The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com

  10. #10
    213th's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five-0 View Post
    Section 32-5A-50


    Do people need a laws to be told not to be a dumbass?
    No, but if they are being a dumbass, I still don't see how that is justification to go in their vehicle. As of yet we don't regulate dumbass-edness. To me, it seems a waste of time, unless the officer is already at that vehicle for something else. I just can't imagine that it is so slow that there is nothing else to do then check vehicle doors.
    Last edited by 213th; 10-14-11 at 03:45 PM. Reason: re-phrasing
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
    He who signs the cheques, makes the rules.
    He who makes the rules, has the power.
    He who has the power, has the money.

  11. #11
    213th's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhino View Post
    Okay, so that means if someone enters your car after leaving it unlocked and steals all your valuables- or even the car itself what do you do?

    You call the police.

    The police open a case.

    The case gets assigned to a detective.

    The detective has to take time away from the dozens, if not hundreds, of other cases he's working to investigate yours. Taking time and energy away from investigating other cases like burglaries, home invasions, armed robberies, or even murder.

    My point is this: You won't be the only one to suffer the consequences. Unless of course you don't plan on reporting it to the police. And while that may be your decision, I can promise you it won't be the decision of the vast majority of theft victims.

    An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of the cure.
    Honestly, it has happened to me once. I'm lucky they didn't steal my car; the key was in the ignition. Guess, what I don't do it anymore. But the feeling I had when I realized people had been in my vehicle, messing around with my stuff, would not have been any different regardless of who the stranger was and what they were doing without permission in my car.

    I think its interesting that no one else commented on the liabiity issue. Maybe I'm off base with that, but I wouldn't be suprised to hear that people are going to start to blame the police for missing items (whether or not there really are any) after finding a notice in their car.
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
    He who signs the cheques, makes the rules.
    He who makes the rules, has the power.
    He who has the power, has the money.

  12. #12
    213th's Avatar
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    Trying to put myself in your shoes (as best I can) I just can't see many scenarioes where the benefits outweigh the risk and time invoved to check it. And what happens when someones keys get locked in the vehicle because of this? Around here it varies, but in Madison officers will not slim-jim a vehicle. Does the department now pay for someone to unlock the vehicle for the citizen? WHat happens if it is inclement wx and the person has no one to let them in etc? I know some of these are more one-off situations, but it is a potential risk taken. I just wouldn't want that on my hands.
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
    He who signs the cheques, makes the rules.
    He who makes the rules, has the power.
    He who has the power, has the money.

  13. #13
    Five-0's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    I think its interesting that no one else commented on the liabiity issue. Maybe I'm off base with that, but I wouldn't be suprised to hear that people are going to start to blame the police for missing items (whether or not there really are any) after finding a notice in their car.

    Why. Replace the word car with house and you just talked every officer out of clearing a house where we respond to an alarm with an open door. We clear those houses and then secure them. I leave a card after doing so. Crazy I know.

    Meanwhile, fishing in Russia:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkzV5AIK8iM
    "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it." -- Frederic Bastiat

    "Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter." Ernest Hemingway

    The opinions given in my signatures & threads DO NOT reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employing agency. They are my personal opinions only, thereby releasing my agency of any liability, or involvement in anything posted under the username "Five-0" on Officerresource.com

  14. #14
    Jks9199 is online now The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    The way I see it, that is where the difference lies. The car is not intended to be used or removed by anyone else. It is still private property, regardless of where it is parked. It may be a public street, but that doesn't make the car public property because it sits there. I think the best correlation I can draw would be to a roadside mailbox. It sits within the road easement, but is not locked. Just because the city has easement rights, does not give them permission to open the mailbox.


    But regardless of whether or not it is technically legal, it is still a bad idea. If for no other reason then if something has already been stolen from that vehicle, then you can be put in a pretty tough spot. As far as I know there are no laws requriing a vehicle be locked, so why are we monitoring and controlling legal activity of citizens?
    And if simply leaving it unlocked eliminated privacy and dropped ownership rights, then how could we prosecute any larcenies from vehicles? "Nope, I didn't steal nothin'; the car was left on the street, unlocked, so I found this stuff in it. It was fair game!"
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  15. #15
    Jks9199 is online now The Reason People Hate Cops & Causer of War
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five-0 View Post
    Why. Replace the word car with house and you just talked every officer out of clearing a house where we respond to an alarm with an open door. We clear those houses and then secure them. I leave a card after doing so. Crazy I know.
    The situation is different.

    Respond to an alarm, and find a door open, and you've got a reason to suspect a crime has occurred. Find an unlocked car, and it's more like seeing a door standing wide open while on patrol. OK, you clear the house to make sure it's not a burglary or other problem because doors aren't commonly left standing open, right? You're acting in the community caretaker role. And, depending on what you find (like a grow op), you're probably going to stop, hold things as you find 'em, and get a warrant.

    Personally, as tempted as I've been to do the same sort of thing -- it's a dumb idea for all the reasons mentioned.
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  16. #16
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    Going into the cars? I'd say I'm not in favor of that, even if it is legal. Leaving a notice on the windshield? At first it sounds like a good idea. But then I thought that for a criminal, you just need to look for cars with notices on them and know you just found a good target. Even if the cop locks the car, the notice may alert the criminal that there is or might be goodies inside, making it worth actually breaking into. Also, how much time are officers spending testing every car door handle? With as undermanned and busy as we all seem to be anymore, we need to focus our energies on other things before spending a good chunk of the shift getting out of the squad car and checking all the parked cars. This policy sounds like a person who has their heart in the right place but doesn't quite get it right.
    CHIRP! CHIRP!

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    If I come up on a suspicious vehicle, unlocked, with no owner to be found, I just have dispatch notate it in the computer. I don't poke around, save for a quick eyes-only plain view look.

    They leave it unlocked, it's their business.

  18. #18
    213th's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five-0 View Post
    Why. Replace the word car with house and you just talked every officer out of clearing a house where we respond to an alarm with an open door. We clear those houses and then secure them. I leave a card after doing so. Crazy I know.
    Maybe it is semantics, but to me, an alarm sounding is an indication that something is amiss, and the fact that an alarm system is present, and monitoring for that alarm is paid for, that constitutes a passive desire by the owner for something to be done when the alarm sounds.

    An unlocked car, to me, is not an indication that anything is wrong, nor does it indicate to me a desire on the owners part for anyone to do anything about it.
    He who has the money, signs the cheques.
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    He who has the power, has the money.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by 213th View Post
    Sorry but they have no more business going into an unlocked car then an unlocked home. If I'm going to be a dumbass and leave my car unlocked, then let me suffer the consequences.

    I'm also going to throw this out there, what if you see something illegal (drugs or whatever) in plain sight? Would this effect any future case? What if someone else has already stolen something from that vehicle? You have now been in that vehicle, left a note telling them that. That puts you in the vehicle that has items stolen from it, and I for one would not want the hassle of trying to explain that one.
    Here's my take on it. You cannot go into a vehicle, even if unlocked, unless you've got a good reason. I'm pretty sure there is an expatation of privacy in a vehicle. Now I can look in the windows and if I then see some marijuana, then I'm ok to look further. Going into it and leaving a note is a no-no to me.

    32-5A-50 doesn't cover locking the door. It's just to prevent cars from rolling out of parking spots and things. I've had to cite that one a few times.

  20. #20
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    I'm going to have to agree with 213th here. I don't think that it's very likely someone will accuse the police of stealing something from their car. Even though it's possible, I don't think it's likely.

    But I think responding to alarms or doors standing open for businesses, homes, etc, should be handled differently than an unlocked car door. Consider the number of unlocked car doors in a city at any given time, and the number of doors standing open (not unlocked, open) on closed businesses or homes in the middle of the night. The unlocked cars aren't nearly as suspicious or out of the ordinary than a business that's unlocked or a home with a door standing open, a alarm going off, etc.

    Also, we can only assumed that there's a TON of unlocked vehicles in a city at any given time, and an officer or officers checking car doors are only going to be able to check a small portion of them, and an even smaller portion of those checked will be unlocked. How many thefts or motor vehicle tamperings are they really preventing? It seems like an awful lot of manpower and time is being put forth checking doors and leaving notices compared to the amount of time that goes into investigating a theft of items from a vehicle.

    And finally, my city also has a municipal ordinance against leaving a vehicle unattended. But it's a local ordinance not a state law, and it only covers a vehicle left running, or a vehicle with it's keys in the ignition. Not unlocked doors.
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