This past weekend, Missoula police received several reports involving vehicle break-ins. Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh would like to remind residents to properly secure their vehicles to prevent theft and avoid being an easy target for thieves.

“It is never a good idea to leave valuables in your vehicle, even if you lock your car,” Welsh said. “If it can be seen, it can be stolen. People are not above breaking windows out of cars to grab something of value. We encourage folks to take their valuables with them when they leave their cars. If you are out and away from home, put your valuables in your trunk so they are out of sight and out of mind. It is better to not leave anything in your car. If you leave something valuable in your car, there is a good chance somebody may come along and think they deserve it more than you do.”

A lot of folks like to leave their vehicle unlocked, but Welsh says you should always lock your vehicle.

“A lot of times, criminals can be opportunists,” Welsh said. “If they find an open door, they may just get in and rifle through the car to see if anything is there. If it is locked, they may decide it is too much trouble and may go on to the next one. It is always a good idea to lock your car, regardless of whether you have items of value in it or not.”

According to Welsh, a lot of vehicle thefts occur while folks are warming up their car in the morning.

“If you warm it up in the morning and go back in your residence, make sure it is somewhere you can keep an eye on it and do keep an eye on it until you’re ready to leave the house,” Welsh said. “There are people out there that will take an opportunity to take somebody’s car, especially in the winter months when it is cold. If you can avoid leaving your car open when you start it in the morning, that is the best thing.”

If you want to warm up your car in the morning, Welsh recommends having two separate keys so you can lock your key in the car while the engine is running.