Crimes of convenience - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Safety

Is our 'culture of convenience' aiding crime?

Putting yourself in harm's way is now even easier than in the past.  It's all because of new conveniences. 

You used to have to go inside a store to rent a movie. Now, all you have to do is swipe a credit card through a machine outside a gas station or grocery store.  These new conveniences are great, even though they can make us easy targets for criminals.

"It's convenient to use a Redbox," Police Officer Chris Widmer explained.  "It's convenient to leave your car running.  It's convenient to get in and get out, but these are the people who normally get set up and find themselves being victims of crimes."

Police will tell you it's all about our "culture of convenience."

Maya Bougebrayel knows it all too well.  One day while getting a movie at a kiosk with her purse hanging open, her cell phone was stolen.

Bougebrayel said, "You're not noticing. You're grabbing a movie. They come up behind you. You honestly have no control over that."

Sometimes you don't have control, but there are ways to protect yourself. 

Widmer says police tend to see common factors with these crimes of conveniences, like night-time transactions and the victims being alone or distracted. 

"In all of these scenarios, these people kind of set themselves up for a crime of opportunity," Widmer said.

While out renting a movie, Alexis Vawter says she checks out her surroundings before making her transactions to hopefully avoid being one of those victims.

"I know plenty of people who have been robbed at ATMs, trying to get cash back and people run-up and grab their cash and take their card from there," Vawter said. "It's not pretty and I've heard so many horror stories that I've kind of terrified to use ATMs now."

As technology makes it possible to shop from a box outside the store, those brick and mortar buffers between you and the bad guys disappear. 

"They watch for people who leave their cars running," Widmer explained. "They watch for people who stand out there with wallets in their hands and who are also texting - someone who's distracted."

And even if you think you're safe, you might not be. Surveillance video taken from outside of a store shows a woman outside trying to rent a movie when she's blind-sided by a purse snatcher.  She never saw him coming.

Widmer says some victims, in hindsight, realize something felt off before they were robbed. 

"They remember seeing a vehicle out of place or they remember seeing someone that looked suspicious, but they went ahead with that transaction anyway," Widmer said.

The solution is simple, take only what you need to the kiosk.  If all you need is a credit card, then leave the purse or wallet locked inside the car.  Also, know your surroundings and avoid shopping at night or in dark areas.  

Sure it's going to take a few more seconds, but those seconds are definitely going to be worth it if your belongings don't end up in the hands of a criminal.

Copyright 2013 America Now. All rights reserved.