Reminding residents to take a few extra steps to thwart burglaries and auto theft has been promoted for the last 90 days by the Gardner Police Department as the “9 p.m. routine” which encourages checking locks and windows each evening.
“Some of you may be curious as to why we have been doing the #9PMRoutine for so long. Well the answer is, from January 1st to October 31st there were a total 28 auto burglaries and six auto thefts. Only two of the auto burglaries were due to forced entry, and four of the vehicles stolen had keys left inside the unlocked vehicle. It is very important to take the extra moment or two to make sure you remove all of your valuables and your property is secured,” the GPD recently posted to their social media page.
Auto burglaries and thefts have been slowly increasing the last few years, according to Jay Belcher, GPD chief.  “In 2019 we had 15 auto burglaries during the same time frame and in 2020 we had 19.  In 2020 we had 14 auto thefts and 10 auto thefts during the same time frame,” Belcher said.
No particular auto appears to be targeted. The vehicles burglarized are those that are unlocked or trucks that have unsecured valuables in the bed areas, Belcher said.
In terms of auto thefts, over the last week or so, our city, as well as surrounding cities, have been getting hit with vehicle thefts of Ford F series trucks (F-150, 250 and 350s), he said. The trucks stolen have been 1997-2007 model years.
“It appears the theme is to break into these trucks by punching the exterior lock, then punching the ignition and stealing the truck, if they can bypass the safety feature,” Belcher said.  “We have not been recovering the vehicles.”
Belcher said he suspected the trucks were being broke down and sold for parts.
The “9 p.m. routine” promotion was to get people to remember that taking a couple of extra steps when getting out of their vehicles at home can prevent costly losses.  “Roll your car windows up and lock your car doors,” Belcher said.
Remove valuables, keys, purses, wallets, computers, firearms, etc. from vehicles.  If your car is parked in the garage, remember to close your garage doors.
“Doing these simple things can send that auto burglar or auto thief down the street and away from your home, your vehicle and your valuables,” he said.