Brazen 'sliding' thieves targeting cars at SC gas pumps, sheriff - WFLA News Channel 8

Brazen 'sliding' thieves targeting cars at SC gas pumps, sheriff warns

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GREENVILLE, SC -  It's a crime of opportunity cops call "sliding." Thieves are targeting unsuspecting motorists while they are pumping gas -- and it only takes seconds.

It's a trend that's on the rise nationwide.

Imagine you are getting out of your car to pump gas, leaving your door unlocked. That's just what these thieves are hoping for.

While your back is turned, they open your passenger door. A few seconds is all it takes to steal whatever is in your front seat before they "slide" away with you ever knowing.

"Purses, cell phones, computers...anything that they see that they can get a hold of," explained Master Deputy Jonathan Smith with the Greenville County Sheriff's Office.

Smith said his department is being proactive, alerting Upstate residents to this nationwide robbery trend that often happens in broad daylight.

"People are being more brazen and getting more comfortable with committing these crimes," said Smith.

The problem is drivers are often comfortable, themselves and leave their doors unlocked.

"This is exactly what they are looking for," said Smith.

WSPA-TV's Addie Hampton went to a Greenville gas station to see how many people leave their car unlocked or roll their windows down while they are pumping gas. Fifteen cars pulled in to pump in fifteen minutes. All left their door unlocked.

"I usually just leave it down like that, windows down and all,” said driver, Marcus Ross.

Many drivers like Ross said they'd never heard of "sliding."

"What goes through your head when you hear something like that,” asked Hampton.

“Wow. I leave my phone in there every time. I'm thinking it is safe. I didn't really think people did things like that,” said Ross.

Others said they'd heard of it, even seen it on the news, but never thought it could happen to them.

“I just got out of the car, ran in there and wasn't thinking," said driver, Shelly Jones.

The best thing you can do is lock your car, roll up your windows and take away the keys; otherwise those valuables could slide out of sight before you ever know they're gone.

Experts say neighborhoods you consider "safe" are often targets for sliders because that's where most drivers will leave doors unlocked. They add that SUVs are especially vulnerable because the seats are much higher.

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