Thefts on the rise in the area

Leslie Silverman
Don’t make yourself an easy target. 
That’s the message from senior deputy Jim Waldrop of the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office. Waldrop wants residents of Hill City and Keystone to know that if they are not easy targets they are less likely to get victimized.
“Times have changed,” said Waldrop. Mail theft, theft from vehicles and theft of catalytic converters are all on the rise in Rapid City. Small towns in the region are becoming more vulnerable to this crime. 
Hill City is beginning to see this. A street in Hill City was recently targeted this way by a criminal who walked through a neighborhood at night and tried to open unlocked cars via the door handle. Responding deputies saw clear footprints in the snow showing exactly what the perpetrator did.
“He tried every vehicle on that street,” Waldrop said. 
If a car is unlocked the criminal steals the contents inside. It’s a quick and easy theft for the criminal and a needless nuisance for the victims. 
Criminals rarely break into cars anymore, but rather opt for this unlocked car method. Hill City and Keystone residents may be more vulnerable because of the way they’ve always done things, keeping their doors unlocked. Residents should have a good awareness of where they’re parked and whether or not their cars are locked, especially at night.
“If we are easy targets it greatly increases our chances of being victimized,” Waldrop said. 
The theft of catalytic converters is another crime that is common in Rapid City and hitting close to home. Criminals look for easy targets such as campers or cars that have the appearance of being abandoned or unused for long periods of time.
A crime like this almost took place South of Hill City.  A criminal drove by a camper that looked abandoned. There were no tracks in the snow to show otherwise. Fortunately the criminal’s efforts to steal the catalytic converter did not go as planned, but Waldrop wants to make sure this type of crime does not occur.
“You won’t know it until you see it,” Waldrop said, meaning many in the area who have campers on their property may not notice a missing catalytic converter until they start their campers in the spring. 
Waldrop is asking residents to make certain cars, campers, boats and other vehicles are locked and to make it look like they’re not just sitting there by moving them or walking out to them from time to time during the winter months. The best way to avert a crime is to “lock everything and make it look like people are routinely there.”
And while some in the area rely on game cameras to catch criminals, cameras still allow the theft to occur. They also often have poor image quality, making it difficult for police to identify the offender. 
With mail theft becoming “really bad” in Rapid City, Waldrop thinks it’s a good idea for people to check their mailboxes daily. Overall, when it comes to crime the message is clear.  “If we’re not an easy target we’re less likely to get victimized,” Waldrop said.

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