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H.E.A.T. Keeps Drivers Safe From Car Thieves This Summer

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LIVONIA (WWJ) - The warm sunshine of a Michigan summer brings with it more than just trips to the beach — it also brings an increase in auto theft and auto theft-related crimes, according to H.E.A.T. (Help Eliminate Auto Thefts), Michigan’s statewide vehicle theft prevention program.

According to the FBI, July marks the start of the high season for car theft. In 2010, a car was stolen every 42.8 seconds for a total of 737,000 car thefts resulting in $4.5 billion in losses for American car owners.

“While you’re out enjoying the summer sunshine, thieves are out looking for unsuspecting victims,” Terri Miller, director of H.E.A.T., said in a statement.

“Don’t make yourself an easy target because you forgot to roll up your windows or left your keys in the car while cooling it down. Michigan drivers need to be educated, aware, and take an active role in protecting themselves and their property,” said Miller.

H.E.A.T. provides Michigan drivers with the following tips for keeping cars and belongings safe throughout the warm weather months:

• Lock and Load – Always lock your car when leaving it, and remember to set alarms or other anti-theft devices every time you get out. Close windows tightly, and don’t forget the sunroof or convertible top. You can also add a second layer of protection to your vehicle by using a steering wheel locking device, a steering column protector or an alarm with a visible indicator.

• Watch Those Wheels – Invest in locking lug nuts and park in your garage whenever possible. Thieves often target easy-to-steal tires and rims.

• Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Keep all personal belongings, including GPS systems, MP3 players, cellphones and other valuables, out of sight.

• Give and Go – No car is worth your life. If approached by a carjacker, give up your car. Most carjackings involve a weapon, so give them your keys and get away from the scene quickly.

• Keep Watch and Report Crime – Help keep your neighborhood safe by writing down descriptions, license plate numbers and other helpful information. Report any suspicious activity. If you know anything about auto theft, chop shops, carjacking or insurance fraud, report it day or night to your local police department and H.E.A.T.’s 24/7 confidential tip-reward line, 1-800-242-HEAT or online at www.miheat.org.

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