Crime

Car thefts spike in Livingston. Police seek public’s help.

The Livingston Police Department. Merced Sun-Star file photo.
The Livingston Police Department. Merced Sun-Star file photo. akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

The Livingston Police Department is urging citizens to be on the lookout and report suspicious activity after several vehicles have been reported stolen in the city recently.

According to Livingston Police Sgt. Ray Fong, five vehicles have been reported stolen in the city during the last three weeks.

Fong said three of those cars - two 1994 Honda Accords and one 1996 Honda Civic - were stolen from the Foster Farms employee parking lot during that time.

A Chrysler PT Cruiser that had the keys left in it was stolen from Liberty Market and a Bobcat vehicle was stolen from a residential construction site in the area of Barcelona Drive, Fong said.

The new release says the most commonly stolen vehicles are 1980s through early 2000s Honda Civics and Accords. Police say these earlier cars had a faulty design in the ignition lock and thieves take advantage. Later models of the cars could be stolen using shaved keys, which are similar to a master key used to open locks, police say.

Police said owners of these vehicles should be careful and take extra steps in protecting your car from thieves.

Police said a hidden kill-switch is one of the easiest anti-theft devices and one of several actions the public can take to protect their vehicles. The kill-switch disconnects the battery from the vehicle’s ignition and prevents the car from starting, according to police.

Police said some people install a flashing LED light on the car’s dashboard which imitates a car alarm.

According to police, parking location is also important and car owners should be aware of their surroundings when parking.

“Lock the car and don’t leave keys in them,” said Fong.

Police recommend parking in a well-lit area with as much foot or vehicle traffic as possible. Parking near security cameras is a strong deterrent, Fong also said not to leave items such as purses or cell phone in the vehicle.

Authorities suggest parking vehicles in a garage while at home especially if you own one of the vehicles previously mentioned. When it comes to vehicle thefts, police say there does not seem to be a difference between parking your car in a driveway or on the street. Parking in a driveway with a motion sensing flood light does provide some deterrence, according to police.

Police also urge members of the community to be aware of what is going on around them especially at night.

If you see a suspicious person or vehicle try to provide authorities with the license plate of that vehicle. Providing dispatchers with clothing descriptions and the number of suspicious persons can give law enforcement an upper hand when arriving to investigate a report, authorities say.

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