Mysterious QR codes showing up on car windows help stop burglaries

Codes encourage drivers to scan cards

Sanford Police are placing QR codes on cars to help reduce the number of burglaries.

SANFORD, Fla. – How many times have you heard the age-old police catch phrase "lock it or lose it"?

The phrase was coined to help you remember to lock your car doors and take your valuables so your car doesn't get burglarized, but for many people, it has become white noise.

Sanford Police Capt. Trekelle Perkins said people have heard the saying so many times, they ignore it.

"What we were doing, just trying to remind individuals to secure their vehicles, wasn't working," Perkins said.

So he and the Sanford Police Department researched other ways to try to get the burglary prevention message through to drivers.

They decided on something called Vehicle Assessment Survey cards.

On one side of the card is a large QR code.

The other side includes the Sanford Police Department's logo and a line for an officer to write down a code.

Officers blanket parking lots, placing the cards on all car windshields.

Officers write police codes on the card depending on what they see inside the car -- if they spot valuables, if the car is unlocked, both, or neither.

The only way a driver can figure out what the codes mean is by scanning the QR code with their cellphone.

Officer Marcus Anderson said the cards tug at people's curiosity.

"It's not me writing in plain English your car is locked but you have stuff in the front seat," Anderson said. "You have to interact yourself with it."

Anderson said the codes he writes are only based on what he can see through the windows.

"I'm not trying to search your car, I'm not trying to go inside it," Anderson said. "I don't even touch your door handle."

Perkins said the parking lots officers choose are based upon criminal activity. Every day, crime analysts plot the activity from the night before on a map.

"The darker or brighter red that shows a concentrated area of where crimes are occurring more," Perkins said.

Perkins said the idea behind flooding a parking lot in an area where crime occurred is to make people aware and also put officers in that area as a deterrent.

"The way this gets crime results is when we have trends or spikes in crime and put the officers there where the crime is, it is our goal to hopefully catch these criminals in the act, and that's how we get our results," Perkins said.

Anderson said drivers sometimes think a ticket was placed on their windshield and scan the code to find out more.

That's the point.

“I think it kinda gets the point across a little bit more,” Anderson said. “It’s something you can touch.”

About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for WKMG-TV News 6 (CBS) in Orlando and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting. Erik joined the News 6 News Team in 2003 days after the tragic loss of space shuttle Columbia.