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Freeport police temporarily stop warning about unlocked vehicles

Officers entering unlocked vehicles and leaving a flyer encouraging motorists to lock their doors has led to complaints, leading city officials to put the practice on hold.

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy on Sept. 21, 2017.

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy on Sept. 21, 2017. Photo Credit: Johnny Milano

The Freeport Village Police Department has temporarily halted warning motorists about the dangers of leaving vehicles unlocked after residents complained about what some consider the practice's invasive nature.

Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy said the flyers reading “lock it or lose it” that police officers have left in unlocked vehicles were meant to “reduce crime and protect the residents around the holidays.”

But Joseph Gambino, president of the South Freeport Civic Association, said residents in recent days have complained on social media that the practice is “invasive and intrusive.”

“There are many residents that seem very upset and disturbed about police officers going in their cars,” he said. "They could've resorted to some other form of communication to get their point across."

In response to those complaints, Kennedy said he asked the police department on Friday to temporarily stop placing the flyers in vehicles while his legal department reviews the practice.

He noted that 80 percent of vehicle larcenies in the village occur in unlocked vehicles.

South Freeport Civic Association vice president Jennifer Winters said she is meeting with the mayor Tuesday to discuss resident concerns.

“I appreciate their efforts,” she said of the village police. “I just wish they would’ve started it in a less invasive way.”

Winters also said police officers risk being mistaken for thieves when entering the vehicles.

As an alternative for warning residents, Gambino suggested the village could send out mailers, post on social media, or hold a news conference.

Gambino and Winters said they are running for village trustee in the upcoming March election.

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