People Who Steal Things from Cars

Who knows what goes through the minds of thieves who break into cars and steal things? Feelings of inadequacy? Boredom? Excitement? Here are their  hidden messages:

  1. “I don’t have the resources or skills to get things like this myself.”
  2. “I’m jealous of you for acquiring these things so easily, when I can’t.
  3. “I hate you for having things I want. Therefore, I’ll just take them away from you.”
  4. “I have the power to make you feel helpless, angry and sad.”
  5. I can get by with stealing, which shows how clever and powerful I am.”
  6. “It’s not fair that you own this car and I don’t. If my car were better than yours I probably wouldn’t have to steal from you. ”
  7. “You might think you’re hot stuff because you drive this car. I’ll show you.”

Their innermost motivations stem from the following beliefs:

  1. “Apart from being able to get by with stealing, I’m not much good for anything.”
  2. “I’m jealous of anyone who has stuff I want. It means that they’re better than me.”
  3. “I don’t really understand what’s so good about love or compassion. Stealing gives me a high that’s even better.”
  4. “I like to hurt animals and people to get even for what I went through as a child.”
  5. “If I’m so clever and powerful, how come I have to steal things rather than buy them with my own cash?”
  6. “Stealing from someone whose car isn’t as good or flashy as mine isn’t very exciting.”
  7. “People who drive expensive cars make me angry. stealing is a way to soothe myself, if only temporarily.”

There are probably some rich kids who  steal from cars. The inadequacy theme still applies. How many straight-A students who have a number of  respectable friends break into cars?

Lt. David Scott of the Detroit Police Department at Wayne State University has something to say about the character of these thieves in the real world: “I have found that thieves are generally lazy people. They don’t want to have to work very hard to get what they want.”

The two easiest ways to break into a car are  1) opening an unlocked door or 2) smashing a window. But as Lt. Scott reports, even making sure you lock your vehicle doesn’t always work: “A thief has absolutely no problem breaking your car window to get inside to steal your property. It’s your window—not his window. Breaking it won’t cost the thief anything and is only a very minor inconvenience of just one or two seconds.”

Thus, if you want to thwart the person who knows how to break into cars, the most important advice from Lt. Scott is not to provide a motive: “It is physically impossible for a thief to steal something that isn’t there. Your goal, therefore, is to leave nothing of value, or that appears to have value, inside your car to arouse the interest of a thief. If there is nothing inside your car to steal, the thief will quickly move on.”

What’s your take on the issue?

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