CrimeTracker 10 Finds Trends In Central Ohio Car Break-In Reports

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It's an everyday problem in every city - car break-ins.

According to the FBI, thieves broke into more than 1.2 million cars last year in the United States. That's 146 cars per hour and 2.4 cars per minute.

"They got my gym bag that had my sweaty sports bra and my stinky gym shoes in it," says Marissa Cantrell of North Columbus, who found a window on her sport utility vehicle smashed to pieces parked just outside her apartment complex along Busch Blvd. in September. "That's all they took."

Most police agencies from around central Ohio say theft from automobiles is their number one crime.  Some police departments consider theft from autos "public enemy #1."

"Well, it is, It's a tough problem to stamp out," says Police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg with the Dublin Police Department.  "We choose a variety of methods - education, prevention, and enforcement, is how we attack it."

Von Eckartsberg says parking lots at shopping centers, office buildings, and apartments are where Dublin police officers respond to the most.

"I can tell you that right now, the most common days of the week for thefts from vehicles are Mondays and Fridays," says von Eckartsberg.

In fact, Monday came back as the most reported day of the week in many other metro cities. CrimeTracker 10 analyzed theft reports going back a year and found Westerville, Gahanna, Columbus, Genoa Township, and the Franklin County sheriff's office all reporting Monday being the highest day.  Some experts say it's because people choose to wait until after the weekend to file police reports.  Others say, when you go back to work Monday, criminals do to.

Chief von Eckartsberg says it takes just a matter of seconds for thieves to break a window.

"There's people out there that will go by and they are looking in those cars actively for valuables and if they see them," he says.

Police say the hours of break-ins depend on the city's makeup, with more residential thefts happening while you sleep and thefts at business parking lots while you work.

But some of the statistics reveal eye-opening trends:  

In Worthington police say they see many car break ins start after 8 p.m.
All but one of Powell's break-ins took place at night as well.
And while most residential break ins happen overnight, Franklin County Sheriff's office took in reports between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In Gahanna, police reports show the biggest spike at 3 p.m.
Grove City saw its peak hour at 6 in the evening.

Statistics aside, police in every city say car break-ins are simply a crime of opportunity.

"Now, it's not that people don't get it, because I think they do," says Chief von Eckartsberg.  "We all at times, think I can just run in to the store for ten minutes, and my stuff will be fine, but it's not that simple."

Crimetracker 10's analysis also showed two peak times for car break-ins: Summer months like July and August, and holiday times, such as December.

Zoo representatives say they have officers who patrol the parking lots along with security cameras.

Theft victims, like Marissa Cantrell, say the recent car break in coupled with recent shootings is prompting her to move to a safer place.

"I know the person that did it was looking for a quick and easy way to make a buck, but they didn't make a buck and they caused someone who works really hard for their living to have an added expense on top of massive other debt and bills," says Cantrell.

Click the links to see a more details version of some car break-in data provided to CrimeTracker 10.

This data is not inclusive of all central Ohio police agencies.