LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Metro police recommend simple steps to prevent auto burglaries, which have been a bigger problem across the valley recently.

And remembering to do these things can eliminate many crimes of opportunity — crimes that weren’t necessarily planned, but happened because there was nothing standing in the way.

Talk about these tips with your family. Here’s what Metro recommends:

Lock your car

Criminals will test a vehicle to see if it’s locked. You’ve probably heard about this happening around the valley, and sometimes security cameras on people’s homes capture criminals in action. Even if you feel like you’re in a safe place or you’ll just be away for a short time, take the step of locking your car.

Take your keys and valuables

Don’t leave your keys in the car. Your house key is usually on the same key ring, along with who knows how many other keys — mailbox keys, storage sheds, keys to other cars. A thief might be after more than just your car, so don’t give them the opportunity. If you have valuables in the car, try to take them with you.

Hide your belongings

If you can’t take it with you, hide it — preferably in your trunk, and preferably before you stop at your destination. If a criminal sees you put things in the trunk and then leave the vehicle, it just calls attention to the location of the valuables. And thieves can spot an obvious attempt to hide things in a car. Put it out of sight — not just under something on the passenger seat.

Metro also advises people to be aware of their surroundings. Your safety could depend on it. Here are some tips from police:

  • Be aware of your surroundings: If you are familiar with the area, look around and notice if anything is out of place. If it’s a new area to you, look around and scope out any potential problems.
  • Don’t fall into technology oblivion: Talking on your phone or having your eyes glued to a screen is a sure sign to a criminal that you’re really not paying attention.
  • Have a plan: When you go into a building, know where the exits are in case there’s an emergency, and think about safe spots you could hide if you need to take cover. Talk about it with the people you are with so you’re on the same page.
  • Vehicle safety: Pay attention to the area around your vehicle as you approach it in a parking lot or outside your home. Look inside. Be on the lookout for people who shouldn’t be near your car and don’t approach if you don’t feel safe. Call police. Another part of vehicle safety involves other drivers. If you think you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station and call police. And don’t engage with road rage … remember, reaching your destination is the most important thing.

And always remember, if you see something, say something. Report suspicious behavior, items or occurrences to police or security officers. Call 911 when there is an urgent need for help. You can also call the Southern Nevada Counterterrorism Center at 702-828-7777, or find them online at SNCTC.org.

These tips were shared during a recent “First Tuesday” event in the Las Vegas valley. Watch for opportunities to meet police officers in your neighborhood and learn about other topics at one of these events.