Thieves Look For Cars Warming Up In The Cold, 100 Stolen In Franklin County Since August

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UPDATED: Monday December 16, 2013 6:10 PM

With weather this cold, it's tempting to let your car warm up first while you wait inside.  CrimeTracker 10 has new numbers showing that's not the best idea.
 
Since August, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office reports more than 100 cars stolen while they sat running outside a home or business, with the key in the ignition.  More than half of the victims reported cars stolen from outside a single family home.
 
"Some of these said they ran inside their friend’s house real quick and their car was gone," says Crime Prevention Analyst Jen Jones with the FranklinCounty Sheriff's Office.  "Unlocked, and their spare key was in the console of the car."
 
Jones spends her day analyzing crime reports, looking for trends throughout Franklin County.  She says right now, trucks -- such as Ford F-150s and Chevrolet trucks -- are getting stolen the most, and mostly from the west side of Columbus.
 
CrimeTracker 10 also learned which areas of Franklin County are seeing the highest numbers when it comes to cars getting stolen during colder months.
 
According to the crime analysis, zip code 43123 saw the most -that's in southwest Columbus, in the Grove City area.  Coming in a close second was zip code 43228, also the west side and includind Lincoln Village closer to West Broad Street and Norton Road.  Tied for third when it comes to cars getting stolen the most in Franklin county, are 43081 (Westerville) and 43223, again in West Columbus near Frank Road and Harrisburg Pike.
 
"That is the west side, the casino, everything is over there, that is just our high crime area," says Jones.
 
Friday, Saturday and Thursday are also the days of the week when criminals target victims the most according to the sheriff's office analysis.  The numbers also showed peak times between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. in the morning most days.
 
"It's cold outside, people are getting ready for work, people are leaving car unlocked, it's perfect for a criminal to get in," explained Jones.  "They don't have to do any work. They just have to get in the car and drive off."
 
Crime prevention specialists in several central Ohio cities say it is clear that car thieves are waiting for that moment you decide to choose warmth over safety -  so make sure your car is ALWAYS locked.

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