What Do You Leave in Your Car? Crooks Might Be Getting More Than Cash

11:58 PM, Feb 11, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- It's the most reported crime in Greensboro: theft from a vehicle. Police were called on it 2,700 times just last year.

That's seven cars every night.

Thieves are breaking into cars, looking for cash and anything of value they can sell, but sometimes, they're getting a whole lot more than money.

In many cases these thieves end up with enough to ruin your financial life.

"It is tempting to leave junk mail in your car because we receive tons of it every day," explained Officer Douglas Campbell with the Greensboro Police Department. "But what I'd be concerned about is a person could take a credit card application and they could fill it out and they could say 'Yes I am Morgan Hightower, yes I want a Capitol One card, please mail it to my new address,' or a vacant house and they say 'Send my new credit card and all of my statements to that address,' and you'll never know unless you run your credit history every once in a while."

Officer Campbell searched through WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower's car to see just what information crooks can get when they break in our cars.

"I hate to be harsh; I can't give you a very good grade for keeping everything out of your car," explained Campbell.

In less than one minute, this cop playing crook got two cell phones, junk mail, an old ID, a garage door opener, a gold necklace, a GPS, and a spare key.

"This ID does have your picture on it, they could cut it out, glue it onto a fake passport," said Campbell.

My phones didn't give Campbell too many clues because they're password protected, but if yours isn't, there is limitless access to your personal life.

"If they can get into your email they can see your orders, and different information about the orders you've placed on the internet and your contacts and other information you have online," said Campbell.

If you have a banking app on your phone or you've stored your checking account information on it or left your checkbook in the car and someone breaks in, Campbell says you're in trouble.

"If you have the account number and a routing number and a name, you can go to an office supply store and get blank checks, type in all that information, and I can start printing out checks with all your information, and I can start cashing them."

With the GPS device, all the criminal has to do is hit the "home" button and then the criminal not only knows where you live, they have directions to your house.

"After the GPS gets to your house, if the thief such as I, continued looking in your car, they would find the garage door opener, and with the touch of a button, I'll be walking into your garage," said Campbell.

"Every day we get more reports of people leaving their purses, their lap tops, their brief cases, their GPS' in their car, so it's a problem all over Greensboro," said Campbell. "Take all your valuable property if you can or hide it so people can't just look in the window and see."

Campbell suggests keeping information with your name and address like your proof of insurance and registration locked in your glove box.

He says to never leave your checkbook in your car.

When it comes to your GPS, don't store your home address in the home location. Instead, Officer Campbell suggests putting a store or gas station that's close to where you live.

He says the most important advice may be the most obvious: lock your doors.

WFMY News 2

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