ATLANTA (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Two of the most popular crimes in Atlanta are also two of the easiest to prevent: car break-ins and auto theft.
A veteran Atlanta Police officer says car, truck, and SUV owners are making it way too easy for thieves to get what they want in a just a matter of seconds.
Sgt. John Chafee says car thieves will be out in full force, especially as Atlanta has an influx of visitors for the super bowl and everyone should be on high alert.
Sgt. Chafee says gas stations and shopping center parking lots continue to be the most popular targets for thieves looking for vehicles to steal quickly or valuables that are easy to grab.
Let's start with sliders at gas stations. Sgt. Chafee says you must lock car doors every single time to get out to pump gas and keep the keys in the pocket. A key in the ignition, he says, is one of the most common factors in auto theft.
Don't leave a purse, a cell phone, even a briefcase, not even a backpack in sight that might invite a thief to start tugging at a car door or start tussling with valuables.
It's a warning which police hope everyone will heed as we get closer to Super Bowl LIII when lots of cars and car thieves will be all over the city.
The other popular items taken: laptops, TVs and other electronics that can be quickly sold on the street.
Police say drivers shouldn't let folks see you putting expensive items in your trunk. Sgt. Chafee says thieves are bolder now and that's not really a deterrent anymore. They'll just break the window, hit the trunk button and take what you thought you secured.
The advice comes down to two words: lock and leave. Lock your car, not sometimes but every time. And always leave valuables out of plain sight and leave your keys in your pocket.
Sgt. Chaffee Says it's rare for thieves to break into or even steal a vehicle that is completely empty and uninviting.