With about a month left in the summer travel season, I want to remind you to be cautious during your travels. You’re likely driving to your destination and that means filling up your car’s tank at gas stations you might not be familiar with on roads you’ve never traveled.

The unique setting can allow thieves to catch you by complete surprise — when you’re pumping gas or paying a tab inside the station. Most of the time, gas station customers leave their car doors unlocked and items like purses and wallets are often left in plain view. A thief is able to drive up next to the victim’s car, open an unlocked door, and grab any valuables within reach. Then, the thief quickly drives off. It happens in a matter of seconds.

But these thefts can be easily prevented if the appropriate precautions are taken. We recommend the following tips to avoid becoming victims of theft at area gas stations.

  • Pick stations that are well lit and have video surveillance cameras at the pump.
  • Always remove your keys and lock the doors while you are pumping gas.
  • Keep valuables out of plain view in your vehicle and lock the doors even if you are going inside for a moment.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Don’t let your cellphone distract you.