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Get Caught Preventing Crime for a Chance at a $25 VISA Card

Posted November 9th, 2016

The Winter Haven Police Department will kick off a Crime Prevention campaign starting November 10, 2016 to bring awareness of preventing car burglaries by locking doors and keeping the passenger compartment clear. “Get Caught Preventing Crime” is a way for citizens to earn a $25 VISA gift card just for being mindful of locking vehicle doors and keeping valuables locked away. (A similar campaign in 2014 garnered a 17% reduction in vehicle burglaries over the same six-week period from the previous year. The Department did not conduct the campaign in 2015.)

The holiday season is fast approaching and if you think just locking your vehicle is enough to keep your valuables safe, think again. Leaving valuables in plain sight tempts criminals to break the window if the door is locked. Locking is one line of defense, but securing valuables is another. In fact, through the month of October and first week of November, there have been 32 incidents of vehicle burglaries – 13 of those unlocked and 19 locked with the windows smashed. Of the 32 incidents, 28 had items inside of the vehicle that were visible from the outside.

“Locking a car is no longer a deterrent,” said Chief Charlie Bird, “It takes just a matter of seconds for someone to smash the window and grab what is in reach.”

Starting Nov. 10 and running through Dec. 24, five citizens per week will be randomly selected for a $25 VISA gift card. Lists of license plates will be gathered throughout each week from parking lots at shopping plazas and restaurants throughout the City of Winter Haven. Selections will be made each Friday through Dec. 23. Members of the Winter Haven Police Department will be targeting parking lots throughout the city checking for vehicles that are locked and also looking to be sure the passenger compartment is free of clutter. The vehicles chosen for the random selections will know by a Blue Card left on the windshield that has a sticker with a phone number to call. To be eligible, all the owner needs to do is call the phone number listed, leave the tag number of the vehicle and a call back number.

The lists garnered throughout the week will contain the license plate and make/model of the vehicle. The tags will be checked to make sure the vehicle owner does not have a warrant or a criminal history, which is a disqualifier for the reward. Five people will be selected at random and contacted by phone in order to arrange for a pickup of the gift card. The money obtained for the program will come from forfeiture funds. Forfeiture funds are proceeds obtained by seized property or cash that was used to support the commission of a felonious act. In other words, the criminals are funding this program.

“Our citizens are the first line of defense against crime,” Bird said. “We are there to work with them and hopefully the $25 incentive will further motivate drivers to be crime prevention minded.”

Vehicle tag numbers chosen will be placed into a database that will then randomly select five people per week for the six-week program. A total of $750 will be utilized for the program.poster-2016