Car Theft Safety
Now police want you to know how you can protect yourself from becoming a victim.
Wendy Swetz had a rude awakening Sunday: someone had stolen her car.
"I was horrified, i was scared, i didn't know what to do," Swetz said. "We called the police right away."
Neighbors say the crimes force them to look closer at their safety precautions.
"It brings up our awareness to be more careful," neighbor Nancy Muskopf said. "We always lock our doors and windows and everything locked anyway, but with the children we just [need to] be more careful."
Swetz says the police told her that car thefts in Columbia are up this year.
"i feel that this is a big problem, and if something's not done and these people are not caught or this person is not caught, its just gonna get worse," Swetz said.
"Most of the vehicle thefts that we see in columbia are crimes of opportunity," said Columbia Police Sergeant Ken Hammond.
"That means the vehicle was running, unlocked, an easy target.
"The recent break-ins happened in several southwest Columbia neighborhoods. Police say warm weather usually leads to more vehicle thefts, but there are ways to protect your car. Officials say putting your car in a garage instead of just leaving it out on the street is probably the best way to protect it.
They also say to make sure and close and lock your garage before going to sleep.Make sure you hide valuables in your car, or even better, take them inside.If you witnessed any car thefts or break-ins, the police ask you call them with information.
You can call CrimeStoppers at 875-TIPS.