Winchester Police to begin ‘Combat the Cat’ anti-theft awareness campaign

The Winchester Police Department (WPD) will begin an awareness campaign titled “Combat the Cat – Lock it Tight or Risk the Swipe!” in order to educate residents about the risks of leaving vehicles unlocked and unattended.

From January 1, 2018 to October 31, 2018, the WPD responded to 99 calls regarding thefts from motor vehicles. Items reported stolen ranged from purses to firearms. In some cases, vehicles were locked and assailants gained access to the valuables by breaking through car windows. Data compiled by the WPD shows that the incidents occurred more often in residential than business areas. An increased amount of theft from motor vehicle incidents occurred between West Boscawen, North Cameron, and Commercial Streets as well as areas between West Jubal Early Drive, Meadow Branch and Valley Avenues, and near John Handley High School.

“A number of residents have unfortunately experienced theft from motor vehicles over the past year, so we came up with this awareness campaign to remind residents of the ways that they can prevent incidents from happening in the future,” stated Lt. Amanda Behan. “A great way to start is by always locking your vehicles, even in driveways. If it is necessary to leave valuables in your vehicle for a short amount of time, lock them in the trunk or keep them out sight, and never leave firearms in unlocked vehicles – period.”

The theme of the campaign, and the inspiration for its name, is the iconic cat burglar. The WPD will get started with the campaign by releasing a video on its social media pages, and hopes to grow by placing signs in the areas of the city that have statistically been most affected by the thefts.

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