Police warn drivers about leaving cars unlocked after string of thefts

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DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Decatur Police said seven vehicles were stolen within three hours on Tuesday. But police said something very simply could have prevented every single one.

The cars were not locked. In every case, the vehicle was either left on or the keys were left inside. That is the exact definition of “Crimes of Opportunity.”

“The first vehicle theft was about 4 o’clock this morning,” said Lt. Ed Hurst. “And the last one was just about 7 o’clock this morning.” That made for a busy morning for officers in Decatur.

“We had seven thefts this morning, in the early morning hours, and we recovered seven vehicles this morning,” said Hurst.

Unfortunately, it is a call they get far too often.

“This time of year, we always see an uptick in vehicle thefts and vehicle burglaries. The majority of the vehicle burglaries occur because the vehicles were left unlocked. We definitely stress for people to lock their vehicles, not to leave their vehicles running to warm up in the morning,” urged Hurst.

One suspect, a juvenile, was arrested at the corner of Grand and Edward. Police found him there with one of the vehicles.

Thanks to the quick action of officers, all seven of the vehicles were found within hours. “A remarkable job by the officers out there,” Hurst expressed. “Keeping their eye open. We had great witness information that provided us a location for the vehicle…Officers got the vehicle stopped and apprehended the suspect.”

But police said we can all be part of making sure these crimes do not happen.

“Even with people out shopping for the holidays, definitely stress not to leaving packaging or valuable items in the vehicle that people can just come by and walk by and see that the item is sitting in the vehicle and take the opportunity,” warned Hurst.

Police said they suspect others were involved in these thefts, but so far they have only made that one arrest.

Decatur Police is not the only department dealing with this increase. Champaign Police said they also saw more car burglaries earlier this fall. WCIA also recently reported a car was stolen from a parking lot in Champaign, but police also found it within hours.

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