As she had to leave at 5AM the next morning, Brittney Henry, the reigning Miss Washington, packed her car the night before. When she awoke, however, she found the car, along with her crown and gowns, gone from her driveway.
The car was recovered a few miles from her home, but her possessions were gone. Henry estimates the value of her stolen belongings at $10,000, which, because the car was a loan from her Miss Washington title, is not covered by insurance. Ouch.
"To have my crown and sash stolen, which can't be sold because they say Miss Washington 2011 on them, is unfathomable to me," she told KING 5 News. "That was the crown that made my dreams come true, that goal and dream I'd had for so many years."
Miss Washington is certainly not alone in this scenario as, remarkably, a vehicle is stolen every 33 seconds in the U.S. Follow these five easy tips to greatly reduce your odds of having your vehicle broken into or stolen:
1. Don't leave vehicle on and unattended. This seems like a no-brainer to most people, but it happens all the time. Even if you're going inside the store "for a second," do you really want to make it that easy for a thief? Some parents even leave babies and toddlers in car-seats, with the engine running. That's an incredibly bad idea.
2. Get a car with an anti-theft device or alarm. When car shopping, look for vehicles that come with some form of anti-theft device. This is a good way to prevent theft from the very beginning of your car ownership experience.
3. Don't leave items out in the open. Thieves are going to have much more incentive to break into your car if you leave purses, wallets, iPods, phones, etc. in an easily visible place when your car is parked. And for Pete's sake, don't leave the valet key to your car in the cup-holder or console. Police report this happens more often than you would think. No need to hot-wire the car if you give the thief a key.
4. Roll your windows up and always lock the doors. Regardless of how familiar you are with the neighborhood, it's always a good idea to lock your doors, even if you're away from your car for a short period of time. Roll up your windows, too, unless you want to totally negate the effects of locking your doors.
5. Park in a well-lit area. Cars that are easily visible by public eyes are less likely to be stolen, says law enforcement. Thieves don't want to risk being easily caught, after all.
Additionally, it will help to not have one of these cars:
View Gallery: The Top 6 Most Stolen Cars In The U.S.