COLUMBIA - Some Columbia residents are taking to the Internet to raise concerns over a string of petty thefts in their neighborhood. Several people who live or work between Providence Road and West Boulevard around West Broadway reported different accounts of petty thefts on a neighborhood Yahoo group web page. A few emails on the page recall thieves entering vehicles overnight and taking anything from change to headphones to chewing gum.
According to West Broadway resident Tony Thorpe, he said his vehicle gets rummaged through on a monthly basis. "I'll come out in the morning and the doors will be open. They don't shut the doors, I think because it makes noise," said Thorpe. "The car manuals and service records will be all over the floor." Thorpe said he has learned to not keep anything valuable and usually the thieves only take whatever change is in the ash tray.
Thorpe said, he only reported one incident to Columbia police when a $20 pair of headphones were taken. But the Columbia Police Department's Public Information Officer Latisha Stroer said every crime should be reported. "We always encourage people to report any crime they see or are a victim of," said Stroer.
Stroer said data from last year showed an increase in vehicle thefts around March. "We tend to see a lot more of [vehicle thefts] during the warmer months," said Stroer.
"They're looking for easy access. The doors unlocked is number one," said Stroer. "Or windows that are rolled down enough where they can get something in there to unlock it or they can reach in there and unlock it," said Stroer.
Stroer said communication is key in preventing these crimes. "The best thing to do is talk to your neighbors. If you have a neighborhood watch group... bring that up in the meetings that it's going on as well as let the police department know," said Stroer. She also recommends not even keeping any valuables in the car overnight.
Something Thorpe learned the hard way.
"Ideally the car rummaging would stop, but at the minimum just stay at the car rummaging level and not evolve into something more serious," said Thorpe.
If you fall victim to one of these crimes, you can contact the Columbia Police Department at 573-874-7652.