Chief reminds public to lock up during holidays – Letter to the Editor


Dear Editor,

This time of year is particularly notable as the holiday shopping season. But, the Fort Madison Police Department also wants to remind the public that is also a period where we typically see a spike in thefts, mainly attributed to packages and valuables taken from motor vehicles.
Most thieves are opportunists, taking advantage of the ease of pilfering items in plain view from unlocked cars. Officers have responded to many such complaints so far in 2020, up 36% from the same period last year, with a high percentage of these from vehicles parked in driveways, parking lots and at curbsides. In almost every instance, with the exception of a few, vehicles were left unlocked overnight or for extended periods of time.

It is particularly disheartening for officers to respond to a complaint of Christmas packages being stolen. There is often little hope that the offenders will be found or the gifts to be recovered. We would urge citizens to be particularly vigilant during these times, knowing that a few simple precautions will greatly reduce the likelihood of these thefts occurring to them.

  • Lock your vehicle. Rarely will a thief break out a window and risk detection of their presence. We’ve learned they often will walk the street grabbing door handles until they find a vehicle that is unlocked.
  • Remove valuables from plain sight. Low hanging fruit is usually taken simply because it is in view and easily snatched without detection. Purses, packages, and other items of apparent value should be taken from your car or locked securely in the trunk.
  • If you must leave your car unattended for long periods of time, park it in a well-lit area, or preferably secured in a locked garage.

It is helpful to us when these thefts are reported, even though the values may be minimal and likelihood of an arrest be made. Being alerted to activity in a timely manner helps officers concentrate their patrol efforts to neighborhoods that are being targeted, or make a connection to persons they have encountered previously loitering in the area.

Mark Rohloff
Fort Madison Chief of Police

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