Thieves are preying on holiday shoppers by breaking into vehicles using a rarely detected but increasingly popular technique.
Rather than traditional smash-and-grab burglaries, police said that thieves are punching out the locks on vehicles.
On Black Friday, gone woman’s vehicle was targeted as it was parked at a restaurant near the Polaris Fashion Place. Nearly $1,200 of gifts the woman had just purchased were stolen.
The lock of her vehicle had been punched out by a thief.
“And we look at the driver’s side door, and the lock had been busted through, and everything everything was gone,” Bethany Trent.
The woman was one of many victims of the same type of crime.
“They can go behind the lock, use a hammer maybe, pound down on the screwdriver or whatever tool they’re using and break the lock off,” said Westerville Police Lt. Paul Scowden.
Scowden said that thieves are getting away with the crime because it is discreet – many do not realize they are witnessing a crime because it looks as though a person is fumbling for his keys.
“They are hard to investigate, because they are very quick,” Scowden said. “Unless they’re caught on video or someone sees them breaking into the car, and the police are right there, it’s hard for us to catch them.”
Police said that being aware of the crime could prevent other holiday shoppers from becoming victims.
Older model vehicles that have key holes built into the actual metal door frame are easier to punch out than new models that use remote keys, Scowden said.
Police also advised shoppers to stow their purchases out of sight.
Watch 10TV News and refresh 10TV.com for more information.