Auto Thefts Rise In Missouri

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 COLUMBIA - Missouri saw an increase in the amount of auto thefts from 2011 to 2012. The Missouri State Highway Patrol's Uniform Crime Reporting Statistical Analysis website showed in 2011, 15,294 vehicles were stolen in the state. This number rose to 16,282 in 2012. While the amount of auto thefts has increased overall in Missouri, locally Columbia auto thefts remain consistent.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol's UCR website showed that auto thefts in Boone County increased by three thefts, 198 to 201, from 2011 to 2012. So far in 2013, there have been 43 auto thefts in Boone County according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol's website.

Columbia Police Sergeant Joe Bernhard said that in 2008 the Columbia Police implemented the bait-car program.

"That is basically cars that are set up with all sorts of electronic devices and cameras and stuff that we use in different areas," Bernhard said. "They move around and they change cars so that people don't know which cars they are."

Bernhard said he thinks the bait-car program helped steadily lower auto thefts in Columbia.

"We put those in high-crime areas or a spot that is having a particular problem with theft from cars or maybe cars being stolen."

Shelter Insurance agent Brian Wright said that 21 auto theft claims were filed in 2011 and the same number was filed again in 2012.

Robert May, an employee at Campus Bar and Grill, had his car stolen on October 27, 2012 while he was working. May has a keypad on his car and leaves his keys inside his vehicle.

"I couldn't really do anything until I had my license and insurance and everything, so they investigation wasn't actually kicked off for another probably 36 hours," May said.

Sergeant Bernhard recommends hiding valuables, like purses and GPS systems, in the vehicles console to prevent an auto theft. Bernhard said to not leave your keys in your car, keep a copy of your insurance card in another location and know your license plate.