Thwarting thieves: Reducing your risk of becoming a victim

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – From a public garage, to a parking spot at work, and even your own driveway, all are places where you could become a victim of crime.

What many people don't realize is how they unwittingly make themselves easy targets.

"People fall into a pattern day in and day out, and that pattern is what can be dangerous and lead you to become a victim," said Officer Christian Lata,  of the Hollywood Police Department. 

Lata said the most common mistake people make is leaving their cars unlocked.

"This is one of the easiest crimes to prevent, but it's all in the hands of the owner of the vehicle," Lata said.

Even if your car is locked, leaving valuables visible is an invitation for trouble.

"It gives the crook, the suspects, the opportunity to take advantage of you," Lata said.

Local 10 News joined Lata as he checked out various vehicles in a shopping center on Sheridan Street.

"This vehicle we came up on, the very first one, it has a duffel bag in the back seat," he noted.

The third vehicle held even more promise for a potential thief.

"Look inside, this car right here has a very expensive drone in it. I'm looking at it right here. It's probably a $600 to $700 drone on the passenger seat," Lata said.

Distractions, like being focused on your phone instead of your surroundings, also increase your risk of being targeted by thieves.

"We're so attached to our mobile devices, even looking up coupons on the way to the store, and they prey on that," said Major Jacob Ruiz, of the Oceola County Sheriff's Department.

Personal safety devices ranging in price from around $20 to well over $200 may offer some protection, but experts say don't count on devices alone to protect you.

"If you don't give the thief the opportunity to make you a victim, then you'll succeed," Lata said. 

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