Monday, December 6, 2021

Protecting Your Property

Photos by Steve Stefanides

You awake around 2:30 AM and make your way into the bathroom. When you exit, you notice a strange light illuminating a portion of your home. Upon struggling to gather your senses you know it’s not a streetlight or any of your other ornamental lightings outside the front door.

Your senses are now fully alert, and you notice that the unusual lights are the headlights of your wife’s vehicle. You then dash towards the front door and throw it open, only to see a stranger inside the vehicle about 25 feet away. As he throws the car in reverse and attempts to hurriedly back down the driveway and onto the street to make his getaway, you lurch through the front door.

All of this while the anger inside you builds over the fact that someone has violated your personal space and is attempting to steal something from you This ignites a fury deep inside you as you dash down the driveway in a futile effort to foil the perpetrators getaway. 

The thief was not very adept at backing down the driveway though, for he recklessly crashes the passenger side of the vehicle into a post at the end of the property before entering the roadway. He then slams the vehicle’s transmission into drive and speeds off. At the same time, you notice a car pulling off the swale on the opposite side of the street. It had been sitting silently out of sight and follows the car thief into the darkness of the early morning hours.

Sounds like something out of a crime novel or a television show—it wasn’t. Instead, it was the story as told to the Coastal Breeze News by one of four residents that either had their vehicles stolen; or an unsuccessful attempt to take another high-value car earlier in March, during the early morning hours as their owners soundly slept through the event.

Sitting in my friend’s garage, we went over the events of that fateful evening as he reflected on his actions, while understanding that his rage at having his personal space invaded drove his responses. Understand that he’s a very quiet and reflective individual who neither seeks the limelight or attention, having plenty of that in his younger years. He would never recommend this course of action, but he was following his instincts that evening.

Marco Island Police recovered the badly damaged SUV sitting only blocks from his home where it had been taken from. The car was damaged during the theft, which wouldn’t have been much of a prize for the criminals and would certainly have been easily recognized by law enforcement; therefore, requiring the thieves ditching it as they left the island. The thieves unfortunately had successfully stolen two other high valued vehicles, but failed in attempts to take another, in addition to this one they crashed. 

The Marco Island Police, working in conjunction with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office and their counterparts across state, were able to successfully track down the other two vehicles that were taken in an organized theft that evening. 

Tips to Protect Your Property

  • Always lock your vehicles and close windows and sunroofs.
  • Never leave your keys or vehicle fobs inside the vehicle.
  • Secure valuables out of sight within the vehicles.
  • Never leave a firearm inside a vehicle.
  • Never leave an unattended vehicle running.
  • Many new vehicles are equipped with security devices that should be used.
  • Lighting around your home is one of the greatest deterrents to theft.

Confronting Thieves

The best weapon you have at your disposal is a phone. Call 911 if you suspect someone or something is amiss. Don’t try to confront someone on your own. Give the 911 dispatcher all of the relevant information regarding your location, the reason you are calling and any description of the suspicious person(s) without exposing yourself to danger. 

Mischief makers don’t like lights, so illuminate the exterior of your home in an effort to deter mischief. The addition of motion sensor lighting is a great addition to the outside of your home. Don’t tempt fate by exposing valuables or leaving garage doors open when not necessary. 

We tend to become more relaxed due to the wonderful nature of the community we live in and the excellent job done by local law enforcement, however, the fact remains we have great numbers of strangers that come and go on our island and the more our residents are vigilant the less crime.

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