Beverly police entering and locking cars without consent from owners
Earlier this month, police in Beverly, MA noticed a rash of car break-ins, so they began seeking out unlocked cars. When police came upon an unlocked car, they locked it of their own accord and left a flyer on the windshield reminding the driver that locking one’s car is a good way to prevent theft.
WBZ News has the story here:
I can appreciate the good intentions of the police officers who concocted or participated in this program, but this is just wrong.
Leaving one’s car unlocked may be unwise, but it is not illegal nor should it be. If car owners want to leave their vehicles unlocked, they should be free to do so. It may be stupid, but they as property owners should be the ones who make the decision, not the police.
If police want to encourage people to lock their cars, that’s all well and good, but they should find a better way to do it like sending out a mass phone call, sending press releases to local news organizations, posting messages on social networking sites, or erecting signs around town.
The most infuriating aspect of this story is that some people have alleged that police actually locked them out of their own vehicles. Imagine absent-mindedly leaving your keys in your car while running into a store to quickly pick up something only to find that you’ve been locked out of your car by a stranger. Now you’re late for work or whatever other appointment you might have and you may even have to spend your own hard-earned money to have a specialist open your car for you.
While leaving one’s car unlocked may be legal, I have a hard time believing that it’s legal to enter a vehicle without the owner’s consent to tamper with it. I’m not sure what crime this would be classified as nor do I have time to research it at the moment (though I imagine it would be burglary, breaking and entering, or some similar crime), however, it seems to me that the Essex County DA’s Office should seriously considering investigating the Beverly police and possibly file criminal charges against the officers who were involved in this.
If police want protect property, they need to learn not to violate it.