Now that summer is upon us, we all like to close the windows and turn on the air conditioners. While this creates a nice atmosphere for us in our homes this also creates an opportunity for thieves to walk undetected onto your property.

All vehicle break-ins usually have one thing in common:  there is something left in the car worth stealing.  Most thefts from cars are “crimes of opportunity” that could be prevented by taking some preventive steps.  The South Plainfield Police department recommends the following:

■   Don’t leave valuables in your vehicle! You would be surprised how often individuals leave valuable items in plain sight.  If you leave items in your vehicle and they are visible, the chances your vehicle will get broken into increase greatly.

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■   Place items out of sight before reaching your destination:  Someone may be watching when you put your valuables under a seat or in the trunk and the moment you’re gone, a thief could break into your car.  So place those items in a safe place before you get to the park, beach, baseball game, etc. Valuable items that thieves target are GPS units, MP3 players, credit cards, money, packages and so forth.  If you can’t take the items with you, secure them in a safe place in your vehicle, like a locked glove compartment or your trunk.

■   Avoid leaving packages or shopping bags out in the open:  Lock them into your trunk, if you have to leave the vehicle unattended. Never open a trunk, fill it full of valuables, close it, and then just walk away.

■   Lock ALL of your vehicle’s doors:  This is true even if you plan on only being gone for “just a second”.  Remember, it only takes seconds to steal items from your car.  It’s not uncommon, for thieves to walk down a row of parked vehicles, looking for unlocked doors.  Also, make sure car windows aren’t left open including sunroofs.

■   Park in busy, well lit areas:  Pick a parking spot where there is a lot of activity. Auto thieves prefer breaking into cars in isolated areas.

■   Don’t leave a trace:  Don’t leave any sign that there might be valuables “out of sight” in your vehicle.  For example:  the suction cup on your dashboard or windshield, might tell thieves that you have a GPS system in your vehicle.  Leave nothing out in view.  Very few auto break-ins are “random”.  The thieves usually see something out in the open or hints of possible hidden valuables.

■   Alarms or anti-theft devices work:  Thieves are usually looking for the “easiest” target.  If you car has an alarm, it could act a deterrent.  But don’t make this common mistake:  Just because you have an alarm, doesn’t mean thieves won’t break-in, if you leave valuable items in plain sight.

■   Don’t leave spare keys in your vehicle:  An experienced thief knows all the hiding places.  Store spare keys elsewhere, possibly your wallet or purse.

■   Don’t leave the garage opener in plain view.

One of the “hottest items that thieves are targeting locally is the GPS system in your vehicle.  Simply put:  If you leave your GPS system visible t the public in your unattended car, chances are it will be stolen!  Here are a few tips to prevent your GPS system from being taken:

■   Take the whole unit out of your vehicle including the mounting bracket.  Don’t leave your vehicle unattended with the GPS system in plain sight.

■   Wipe the windshield so that the suction marks left from the system are wiped away.

If your vehicle is stolen or property is taken from the vehicle there are a number of things you can and should do:

■   Call the police immediately. Provide a complete description of the items taken.  Also provide license plate number, make and model of the vehicle, year and color, plus VIN number and insurance company.

Don’t leave your driver’s license, title, or registration in the vehicle.  If multiple drivers use the vehicle, the best suggestions would be to hide the registration in a secret location in the car that only the owners know.

It is also a good idea to keep a record of the VIN number, license plate number and insurance information in your wallet or purse.