I’m not a person who has particular difficulty in finding my way to places I need or want to go. I guess that is related to a lot of years as a police officer and we were always looking for addresses and memorizing the streets and roads in the community. We learned how the street addressing (it is a system) worked which told us which side of the street a particular address was located on, how the addresses ran parallel on a block or whatever. We had to know who to get places in the community quickly in case of emergency. Maybe you didn’t know but we had GPS devices back in those days too:
Ok, so we DIDN’T have GPS. We had maps. But we had to memorize because it took too long to consult the map. It is still an important skill for police officers. We literally give written and practical tests to new officers and require that they memorize the community streets. Lately, however I admit that using GPS devices make traveling in unfamiliar territory very easy. I know the devices are popular with others too. Sometimes in a bad way.
One of our most frequent crimes is theft of GPS devices left in cars. The officers frequently complain that they go through parking areas at night and can see the devices lit up and blinking. So they are very popular targets of theft. You might remember the newspaper story from last year where the person in Troy had his GPS in dash system stolen which included his CD player. When he got the replacement installed (at the dealership) he starts to program it and finds his own home address. He pressed the button on the CD player and out popped one of his own personal mix CDs! A tip from him led our a surveillance team from Troy, Auburn Hills and Bloomfield Twp to bust a whole ring of thieves operating in our area by way of Florida. They were trafficking in hundreds and hundreds of GPS in dash devices. Because they were only property crime offenders they were back on the street pretty quickly and I suspect, right back in business. Of course those thefts, and the costs to replace them increase insurance costs to us all.
Here are a couple of tips for GPS safety:
- Do not list you home address as your home, the thieves can go there if they know you’re not home. They just watched you walk into the mall or theater or grocery store so they know you estimate how long you are going to be gone which makes your home a target. Or program the device to use a PIN to access the data.
- If it is a removable GPS do not leave out, visible. When it is on, it is visible from a distance away when it is on. In the dark hours they are like beacons glowing making them easy to spot in parking lots when thieves drive thru. When not in use or while vehicle is parked, take the GPS with you or stow it out of sight,
- Lock your vehicle doors – especially in parking lots and even in your own driveway. I’m sure you live in a safe community but these folks drive all over the place and prey upon the easy targets. For them it is quick and easy and they are gone with your device.
We have had 50+ thefts and counting in the last 12 months. It is one of our most common reports and it is also almost totally preventable. So I hope you’ll use these simple tips to safeguard your ability to get where you want to go.