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Your GPS may be leading thieves to your door

Thieves are turning technology against unsuspecting victims using people's own navigational devices to help take them for everything they've got.

America Now joined up with the Los Angeles Police Department for an inside look at 21st-century crime and what you can do to beat the bad guys!

Lieutenant Alan Hamilton of the LAPD says it doesn't occur to drivers how easily this scenario can and does happen.

"Think about the information that's inside a GPS device. Generally, you're going to set your home as the base destination and when that's done, you're basically telling anyone that obtains that device away from your home, where you live," he explains.

This crime starts right out in the open, where the thief can quickly spot a GPS device inside a parked vehicle.

"Quite often we see people parking on the street where you would expect people to be seen, but not necessarily expect them to break into a car. So they use that anonymity as a cover," says Hamilton.

Along with stealing the GPS, thieves will also look for any item in your car that may help them gain entry into your home, like a garage door opener.

"They now have three things that are critical to you being victimized," says Hamilton. "They know you're at an event and you're not at home. They now know where you live. Not only that, they can even use your GPS device to find the fastest route."

But, he adds, there are things you can do to prevent becoming a victim of GPS burglary.

"Here at the Los Angeles Police Department, we have what's called 'Lock it, Hide it, Keep it,'" says Hamilton. "What we ask you to do is lock that device away and take that little suction cup ball as well. We know it's a pain, but we ask that you take that, the cord and the GPS and lock all those items in a secure area in your vehicle."

If a thief sees any telltale signs of a GPS, they will search for it.

"We're talking about a level of sophistication with the criminals where they know very well what's going on," says Hamilton. "If they see that charging cord, they're going to know that device is somewhere in the car. The harder you make it for them to obtain that GPS device, the better off you are."

Most importantly, never program your GPS using your personal address as your home destination.

"You can use a local business establishment that you know how to get to and from your house, especially if it's one you pass by all the time," says Hamilton.

Remember: Lock it, hide it, keep it. Don't let your GPS become an accomplice and lead thieves to your front door!

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