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What to do if you’re a victim of car break-in and how to prevent it in the first place

ROANE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — The number of car burglaries continues to rise in our area and nationwide. 

According to the Council on Criminal Justice, there were 33.5% more car thefts from January through June 2023 compared to the first half of 2022. 

How can you protect your vehicle and belongings, and prevent becoming a victim? 

Roane County Chief Deputy Tim Phillips says car burglaries aren’t uncommon in the area. He looked at a recent report of a car break-in and theft that happened off Interstate 40 near Exit 362. 

According to the report, the victims had flat tire and decided to leave their car on the side of the road to get some help. 

“If you’re broken down along the interstate, you take a big risk in leaving your vehicle there,” Phillips said. “There’s a lot of people that travel that interstate and they’re looking for things like that. We’ve had vehicles stolen.” 

In this case, a window was smashed open and several hundred dollars of items inside the car were taken.  

“Generally people get reports just to document things that are taken,” Phillips explained. “Some people decide to turn it into insurance, some people decide not to depending on the amount, and that’s all left up to the person who is having that reported.” 

If you find yourself in a similar scenario and decide to call insurance, there are several other steps you need to take once you get a police report.  

“Make sure that you take pictures. If you are able to, document anything around the scene, or where you are,” said Maurice Ash Sr., an insurance specialist with Good Nature Insurance Agency. “Make sure that you take pictures of everything” 

He added that anything that happens to your car, like a smashed window, would be covered by car insurance. However, items that are stolen inside your car would be covered by your homeowners or renters’ policy.  

“From jumper cables to a necklace, make sure you know what’s in your car when it’s stolen or broken into,” Ash said. 

Phillips said the best policy is to remove all valuables from your car before you leave it behind, 

“If your vehicle is going to be left anywhere, whether it be the interstate, or the mall, or the driveway at your house, if you leave things of value in there and people can readily see them, I think you open yourself up to becoming a victim.” 

Ash said that it’s important to call insurance within the first 24 hours of the crime. 

Some other good advice from the sheriff’s office is that if you have to leave items in your car, make sure you move them to your trunk before you get to your destination. 

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