The weather is getting warmer and the days are getting longer. As a result, more and more people are out and about late at night. Missoula Police Department Crime Prevention Officer Ethan Smith says 46 people reported that their vehicle was broken into in March, which was more than double the number reported in February. Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh says a majority of these incidents could have been avoided.

“Unfortunately, a lot of folks are leaving valuables in their cars or they are failing to lock up and secure their vehicles,” Welsh said. “The criminal element in town takes advantage of those opportunities. We would like to encourage people to lock their cars and to remove valuables. Take them in the house with you, leave them in the trunk of your car or secure them so they are out of sight. Keep yourself from becoming a victim.”

According to Smith, 100 vehicles have been broken into during the first quarter of 2019 and 86% of those vehicles were unlocked. 24 vehicles have been reported stolen and 80% of those vehicles had the keys left inside. Welsh says folks should also make an effort to lock their bicycles.

“People are getting out on their bicycles now more and more every day and we encourage them to take precautions,” Welsh said. “If they leave them anywhere, including at home, make sure they are secured. In the case of bicycles, we always ask people to identify the serial number on your bikes.”

Welsh says it is important to know your bike’s serial number just in case it does get stolen. It is much easier to identify a recovered bike if you have that information.