Signs remind shoppers to guard against crime

New signs have begun popping up at shopping malls in Wichita that soon could become a staple at parking lots around the city.

The signs urge shoppers to hide their valuables, lock their vehicles and take their keys.

The Wichita Crime Commission provided startup funds for the signs, and businesses will be able to buy them for $20 each to post in their parking lots.

That money will then be used to buy more signs, said Lt. Mike Hennessy of the Wichita Police Department's larceny section.

"It really was a no-brainer for us," said Bobby Stout, executive director of the Wichita Crime Commission, which was formed in 1952. "We have a strong history in being involved in crime-prevention programs."

The launch is timely, police spokesman Gordon Bassham said, because police typically see a spike in thefts from vehicles in parking lots during the holidays.

Thieves prey on holiday shoppers who have unwittingly left valuables, packages or identity documents in unlocked cars.

The signs can be installed on light poles or flat surfaces, Hennessy said.

"I can envision these things being all over the city," Stout said. "It's not that people don't know" that they need to lock their car and take the keys.

"It's just the fact that, like all of us, we need to be reminded. That's what these signs are intended to do."

Stout said he was part of the Police Department's first crime-prevention unit when it was formed in 1974. One point stressed then is just as true now, he said.

"You cannot do enough to reduce crime opportunities," he said. "We are not going to stop crime, but maybe we can help prevent it."