CPD urges people to lock the car doors

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia Police Department is encouraging people to lock car doors after reports of people breaking into cars. 

Kelsey Bradley said she heard a car alarm go off early Thursday morning on Prescott Drive in Columbia. She found her neighbor's car with a broken window and later learned the neighbor's wallet was stolen from the vehicle. 

“There was a big rock that was left or was on the lawn right next to her car, so it looked like they literally just picked up something heavy and just threw it at the car and busted out the window,” Bradley said. 

She said her neighbor's car was not the only vehicle targeted. 

"As I was leaving on the way out just kind of driving out through the neighborhood, I saw there was about four other cars that had either doors or trunks that were just completely open,” she said. "It looked like they were literally just kind a opening to see whose car was unlocked to see if they have anything.” 

Bryana Larimer, a Columbia Police Department public information officer, said the department has seen a lot of thefts from vehicles since the beginning of the year. 

She said there are more burglaries when there are more students in town. She noted that new students may not be used to locking their car doors, so this provides an opportunity for people to steal from those vehicles. 

"The majority of them from unlocked doors," Larimer said. "This type of crime is an opportunistic crime."

Larimer said usually people walk down the streets trying to open every car door. One Columbia resident down the street from Bradley said her father forgot to lock the car door. In the morning they found the door wide open with papers scattered everywhere. 

The department also said sometimes people will use force to break into cars if they see something valuable inside. 

"We do encourage people to make sure they're not leaving valuables in their vehicles," Larimer said. 

 [Editor's note: A recent version of this story previously said reported burglaries. KOMU 8 News changed this to thefts from cars.]