Summer of Theft from Motor Vehicle

The Police Dept. database now has the summer, 2017 data so I can update my last jeremiad regarding car breakins in our neighborhood.

The most common offense reported in Forest Hill is “Theft from Motor Vehicle.”  Since the start of the database in 2000, there have been 576 unique reports of those, 27% of the total.


I expect the actual number of such thefts is larger but we have no way to know how many of them go unreported.

I like to call those thefts “car breakins” but, in fact, most of the victims left their cars unlocked.  Much of the “Destruction Property/Private Property” reported reflects actual car breakins.

The data show a third summer of increase, following a period of relative tranquility.


The largest contributor to these numbers is the 4200 block of Riverside Drive, home of the “42d St. Parking Lot.”


There’s a lot of activity at the Nature Center as well.


The Good News is the long term decrease in the numbers.


*2017 data through Nov. 24.

There is some history there.

The considerable decreases in the 4200 block came after Parks’ 2005 response to neighborhood complaints: They started locking the gates to the 42d St. lot at night and off season and they installed rocks to block parking in the part of the lot that is less visible from the street.

I attribute the recent increases to the increased use of the Park and the removal of the rocks last year. 

In any case, there are two lessons here:

  • Leaving stuff in the car, especially in an unlocked car, is an invitation to lose the stuff and to help chum the neighborhood for criminals; and
  • Given that most of the thefts are from the vehicles of park visitors, it’s past time for some LARGE signs in the 4200 block (and probably at the Nature Center and 4100 Hillcrest) and, especially, in the 42d St. parking lot to warn the visitors:
  • Car Breakins Here! Lock your junk in your trunk.