Cheverly officials are adding a new weapon in their battle against thefts: a slogan.
The town’s police department launched a slogan contest in October to find a catchy way to get residents to remember to put away items that might be tempting to thieves, particularly items left in cars.
The winner: “Reduce theft from auto — conceal it, or thieves will steal it.”
The slogan is a slight modification of the actual entry, “If you don’t conceal it, thieves will steal it,” but officials said the message is the same.
“It’s catchy. . . . It is one of the ones that was at the top of the list,” Peter Isaacson, co-chairman of neighborhood watch group Cheverly Police and Citizens Together, said of the slogan.
Thefts accounted for almost half of the 192 crimes that occurred in Cheverly last year, according to town officials. In January, nine of the 17 crimes in the town were thefts.
The most common form of theft in the town is belongings taken from vehicles, and people often leave their property in plain view and doors unlocked, Cheverly Police Chief Buddy Robshaw said.
Robshaw said the theft problem is widespread — there are no particular areas where patrols can be increased to combat the crime. The department has 15 officers, with eight on regular patrol, he said.
“It is difficult to come up with a strategy that is effective,” Robshaw said, noting that thefts are a problem throughout Prince George’s County.
More than half of the county’s 29,948 crimes in 2012 were thefts, according to county crime statistics.
Other slogans submitted by residents included: “Keep it out of sight and you will be alright,” “Out of sight and locked up tight,” “Don’t let complacency cause you to become a victim of crime,” “Society prepares the crime and the criminal commits it,” and “Reduce temptation and reduce theft.”
Robshaw said the town would display the slogan on its electronic sign, in the town’s newsletter, and on the department’s Facebook page and Web site to help spread the message. He said the winner of the contest preferred not to be recognized publicly.
Robshaw said he, Mayor Michael Callahan and Town Administrator David Warrington chose the winning slogan.