Fighting Auto Theft With Awareness
API Magazine Article February 2012
It’s not every day that a person can boast about being a crime fighter or say they have thwarted experienced criminals, yet people are doing so across the nation. With a simple concept in mind, growing populations have taken a stand to fight auto theft by just being aware. Hide your things, Lock your car, and Take your keys is the phrase that is making all of this happen.
Hide Lock Take (HLT), once Lock Take Hide, made its debut in the city of Dallas in 2004 at a police crime prevention demonstration. When crime was at an all time high and departments all over were investing in many ideas and concepts to help stop vehicle burglaries a small program started spreading. Within the city limits, yellow black and red signs were being placed in high traffic areas and back alley parking lots. These signs featured the phrase that caught the eyes and attention of anyone who chose to park in those areas. What seems to be a simple and obvious solution became precisely that. Crime does not have to be fought by police reports and detectives, true crime fighting starts with the average citizen. During the early 2000’s Texas experienced half a million auto burglaries and thefts. Large cities were hit the hardest by this way of crime. Once the Dallas Police Department took on HLT, vehicle crimes were reported to have decreased by over 80%. From there, the surrounding cities took on the awareness campaign and experienced even higher success rates.
Shopping areas, parks, fitness centers, schools, theaters, stadiums and other locations that keep its patrons and attendees in for an hour or more are top on the list for criminals. Cities and neighborhoods with low crime are also the most desired by thieves. College towns began to take notice of the unbelievable difference that HLT had made. Custom signs with the awareness message rolled out onto campuses and into neighborhoods reminding everyone to just be smart and aware. Parking garages were finding the signs to be easy solutions for any problems or potential problem areas. Mounting the signs on poles or directly to the wall in plain sight gave everyone the reminder to lock their cars and hide their valuables. This is the basic responsibility we all must choose to take on if we value our possessions and surroundings. By keeping your vehicle protected you cause a chain reaction. When a criminal notices that vehicles in an area are lacking the easy smash and grab items or unlocked doors, they move on and rarely return. Displaying the Hide Lock Take signs was all it took for the message to make its way into the minds of the citizens but the work was not done.
After spreading across Texas cities down to the Gulf by way of police conventions and crime prevention gatherings, HLT was no longer a concept but a program. After many years of circulating, a few of the original minds gathered resources and created www.hidelocktake.com . With email, web marketing, and social media HLT was able to reach beyond the word of mouth network. Twitter and Facebook feeds daily can be found spreading the HLT campaign. In 2010 the first orders were placed online for Hide Lock Take signs. Police departments began contacting their local news stations with the reports of auto crime cut backs. News reports hit local television and online videos made their way across the web. In 2011 the HLT promotions team left Dallas, TX in route towards Pittsburgh, stopping along the way to take photos of the signs in front of famous and historic places. Once in Pittsburgh the team assembled their booth at the International Parking Institutes annual conference. The message reached colleges from coast to coast along with many countries parking professionals. Signs were purchased and taken back to Canada where the program is now growing beyond the borders. While other like-minded programs exist, there is a clear separation that many hold strong to with the HLT message. The signs do not say crime, theft, burglary or any other associated words. Why display a sign that could negatively advertise a safe area as being dangerous? Education is the first line of defense with Hide Lock Take. Organization and cleanliness are characteristics of beautiful safe cities and towns across the nation, and it’s the same with its citizens. As schools of all age levels begin to teach the student bodies about safety before crime, HLT gains strength in numbers. There is no other automotive crime prevention program in existence that has taught even children to become crime fighters like Hide Lock Take.
Grant opportunities are available to retailers, insurance groups and other businesses to help with the financial needs in order to start the HLT program. Non-profit groups and law enforcement agencies are great resources to collect and distribute grants and HLT materials. Partnering up with associations and ordering custom logo printed signs helps to balance costs as well. New ideas are also being developed like door knob hangers and rear view mirror displays with the message to help reach everyone. With the programs recent Copyright protections, HLT keeps its message and integrity safe too. Starting the awareness is as easy as visiting www.hidelocktake.com, you have already taken your first steps towards fighting crime by reading this issue of Parking magazine. Free printable brochures and videos are online ready to reach out to other citizens via the HLT site.
Contact Hide Lock Take if you would like to utilize the program or purchase materials. Ask your local police department’s crime prevention unit if they have partnered with Hide Lock Take or just visit our new website for information on cities that support the cause. Most importantly remember to Hide your things, Lock your car, and Take your keys, and help spread the word while you’re at it!
More information on the program and how you can take action is found by visiting www.hidelocktake.com