Drivers who leave windows down, doors unlocked, a purse on the floor, laptop on the seat or a wallet in sight will receive a poor grade. The driver will return to find a note that indicates the car is an easy target for criminals.
"[It] would be tremendously helpful if victims were smarter and could use more self-discipline," said Lt. Dan Christman of the San Diego Police department's Northern Division.
The program will first be implemented in University City and La Jolla Shores, where dense parking and valuable cars and possessions are easy targets for theft.
Christman expects to later extend the program to the rest of La Jolla, Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. The Western Division, which includes Ocean Beach and Point Loma, will also consider using such techniques, depending on the success of the program.
Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) members will do the legwork.
Christman classified beach parking, street parking, condo parking and parking lot structures as areas of "low guardianship," where it's unlikely that someone would notice if a thief was breaking into a car.
"Unless you're the victim looking at your own car, it doesn't look that unusual for someone to be looking into a car or getting in and out of a car or taking property from a car," Christman said.
By contrast, single-family neighborhoods tend to have a natural guardianship since cars are often parked in front of homes "” even in front of a window "” and neighbors are more aware of strangers.
Vehicle owners and property managers have a far greater ability to prevent car thefts and break-ins than police do, Christman said. Purses, wallets and iPods should not be left in cars, or should at least be placed out of sight, and people should be more vigilant and pay attention to who is around them, he continued.
"Just the fact that they're looking and paying attention to who's around and what people are doing will also scare people off," Christman said.
The lieutenant also urged property managers to educate their tenants about theft, to consider hiring security and to create an atmosphere that is less conducive to car burglary.
Car theft occurs with far too much frequency, according to Christman. Between January and July of this year, the number of car thefts (not including break-ins) that have occurred on the peninsula are: Ocean Beach, 95; Sunset Cliffs, 14; Point Loma Heights, 114; La Playa, 16; Loma Portal, 15; Midway District, 114; and four in the Wooded Area. The rates in the following communities are: La Jolla Village, 34; La Jolla, 156; University City, 169; Torrey Pines, 14; Pacific Beach, 313; Mission Beach, 58; and Mission Bay Park, 28.
In the same time frame, the number of car thefts occurred per 1,000 people in the following communities: Ocean Beach, 12.6; Sunset Cliffs, 8.2; Point Loma Heights, 10; La Playa, 10.9; Loma Portal, 5.9; Midway District, 22.4; Wooded Area, 1.3; La Jolla Village, 10.4; La Jolla, 9; University City, 6.8; Torrey Pines, 5.4; Pacific Beach, 12.9; Mission Beach, 18.6; and Mission Bay Park, 54.6.
Some communities have had more car thefts since January 2006 than in the entire year of 2005, including Sunset Cliffs, La Playa, the Midway District La Jolla and Mission Bay Park.
This report was compiled from statistics from SDPD's Web site, www.sandiego.gov/police.