The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is reminding residents to help crack down on vehicle burglaries – a crime of opportunity that can be stopped in a few simple steps.

It takes less than a minute for a thief to break your car window and snatch a purse or valuable electronics that are left in plain view. It takes even less time to reach into a vehicle that’s left unlocked and steal the cash in your console or other belongings.

The top five common sense tips to prevent vehicle burglaries are:

1. Keep windows closed and doors locked. The majority of local vehicle burglaries are to unlocked cars and the crime wouldn’t happen if the door didn’t open.

2. Hide your valuables. Stash your things out of sight, preferably in a locked trunk. Even criminals know to check the glove box, under a towel or beneath the seat.

3. If you have an SUV or another model with an open cargo area, get a retractable fitted cover to keep items hidden.

4. Stow your items before you park. Experienced thieves stake out parking lots to watch for people putting items in their trunk.

5. Trust your instincts. Avoid parking in unlit or overly concealed areas. If you see someone suspicious, tell security or contact local law enforcement.

The best defense is to not have valuables in your vehicle, so plan ahead. Think about where you are going, what items you absolutely need and what you could leave at the office or at home.