Lock your cars, police say

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The Steamboat Springs Police Department is reminding people to lock their vehicles and keep a close watch on their skis and snowboards.

In the past month, a number of thefts have been reported involving purses, backpacks and briefcases stolen from unlocked vehicles. And even during the opening weekend of the ski area, police were fielding reports of stolen skis and snowboards at the Steamboat Ski Area.

Police Capt. Joel Rae said there have not been more vehicle break-ins than usual, but he said people should remember to keep their doors locked and valuables out of plain view.

Nine out of 10 thefts from vehicles are crimes of opportunity, Rae said, involving people who take things from unlocked cars. The culprits are less likely to break into cars with locked doors.

"It is horrible," Rae said. "But, we need to remind people that they need to lock their cars. It would save us a lot of worry."

Just because Steamboat is a small town with relatively little crime doesn't mean people should be lax about keeping valuables safe, Rae said.

"Crime happens everywhere. Our advice is for everyone to lock their cars. People have been murdered here, cars get broken into on a regular basis, skis get stolen here," Rae said. "It's not the land of Pleasantville you think it is. Crime happens here, and you need to take the necessary precautions so you don't become a victim."

The latest car break-in was reported Friday at the Steamboat Springs Health and Recreation Center parking lot, where a large, pink leather purse with a laptop and wallet inside were taken from a car parked in the upper lot at the recreation center. The victim had saved a partial manuscript of a novel she was writing on the hard drive of the stolen computer, and she lost many hours of work.

Earlier this month, a backpack containing a woman's purse, checkbook, identification, credit cards and other items was stolen from her vehicle at the Health and Rec.

On Nov. 22, a man brought to police two purses he found behind the ambulance barn in the 800 block of Yampa Street. The purses were stolen from two vehicles parked in the public parking lot at Oak and Eighth streets.

The thief took $150 worth of gift certificates from one of the purses but left credit cards and other belongings inside it.

In each case, the vehicle was left unlocked and the items were in plain view, Rae said.

The opening weekend for the ski area also brought a number of ski thefts, the first being reported at 8:54 a.m. Thursday, less than an hour after the official start of ski season.

Rae reminds residents that skis have been stolen from many places on the mountain, including Rendezvous Saddle and Thunderhead Lodge. He recommends buying locks for skis or not leaving them unattended.

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