Some police are trying new tactics to fight the wave of stealing GPS devices from vehicles, says National Public Radio. Officer Dana Matthis, of the Montgomery County, Md., police department, keeps an eye out for parked cars where the gadgets have been left in plain view. When she finds one, she jots down the license number and then sends the owner a postcard describing the electronics – from GPS devices to iPods to stacks of CDs – she saw. The message: If thieves can see these high-tech toys, then they’ll try to steal them.
Some experts believe portable GPS systems and iPods are criminogenic – they can actually create crimes. “[Thieves] probably have to steal six car radios to get the return from stealing a GPS,” says John Roman of the Urban Institute. “So for them, it’s worth finding one.” Many owners don’t bother to register GPS devices with the manufacturer – or even write down the serial number. So even if the cops catch someone with 25 GPS systems in his backseat, there’s no way to prove the goods were stolen. Bethesda, Md., police Commander Russ Hamill says his officers have broken up rings of thieves. They were mostly young criminals who approached the thefts like a job. “Just about every night, they would hit 30 to 50 cars, going to places where cars were left open,” Hamill says.