The NYPD is asking drivers to exercise caution and awareness when parking at a gas station for a fill-up following an increase in thefts from unlocked vehicles.
Police are asking drivers to lock their doors and roll up windows even for the brief time when they will be at a gas pump.
Thieves in increasing numbers have been going into locked cars while the owners are paying for gas, and not just those who go leave their cars to go inside a building to approach a kiosk to pay.
“While you are paying with your credit or debit card at the pump, a thief can run up to the passenger side of your car, open your door and remove your property,” according or statement posted on the website nypdcommunityaffairs.org.
“Thieves prey on victims who are distracted and turn their backs to the vehicle to pay at the pump,” the statement continues. “The victim does not even realize that anything is missing until they have left the gas station ... You might only be a ‘minute,’ but a minutes is all a thief needs.”
Speaking Tuesday night prior to a meeting of the 103rd Precinct Community Council, Inspector Charles McAvoy, commanding officer of the precinct, said there has been an increase in the theft of things like purses and cell phones by people using similar tactics at gas stations.
The NYPD is recommending that drivers pulling into a gas station to fill up can avoid giving thieves an opportunity if they:
• survey the surroundings and be aware of the area on and around the gas station’s property;
• pick stations that are well-lit and have video surveillance cameras at the pump;
• choose a pump with care, waiting if necessary to park at a pump nearest to an attendant or the building;
• lock all doors and roll up all windows;
• shut off the engine and remove the keys from the ignition.
The department says such thefts also happen frequently at small neighborhood stores, delis, coffee shops and newspaper stands, places where the driver does not intend to be away from his or her vehicle for an extended period.