ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando Police Department is working to reduce the number of vehicle break-ins by leaving notes on unlocked vehicles, urging owners to lock them up.
But the tactics used by the department in some of the warnings have raised concern in some residents.
One officer left a friendly reminder for a woman who parked her unlocked vehicle in Baldwin Park.
The note warned her that she’d left her work ID in the car, and she was opening herself up for identity theft. The problem is, she said, was that the note was left on the front seat inside the vehicle.
Resident Mark Hankins was not OK with the idea of an officer entering an unlocked car, even if the goal was to help the owner.
“I definitely think that’s an overreach,” Hankins said. “They are not going to open the door to your house and set a note on your table and go inside your house if the door was unlocked.
“Your vehicle is personal property. It’s crossing the boundary in my opinion.”
OPD was unapologetic about the program, saying in a statement that it is an example of community policing at its best.
“In almost all cases, we leave the flyer on the windshield or near the passenger door jamb,” the statement said. “At times, we may leave a form on the seat or floorboard of a vehicle.
“At no time are we physically searching vehicles, and we don’t issue tickets or anything like that during these operations.”
Channel 9 Eyewitness News legal analyst Belvin Perry cautioned, though, that an officer opening the door of an unlocked car could be a crime. The fact that they are trying to prevent crime by doing it doesn’t matter, he said.
“If there is no evidence of a crime, police shouldn’t open your doors at your house or your car,” Perry said. “There is no legal reason.”