Smash and Grab Thefts Up

By: Natasha Trelfa Email
By: Natasha Trelfa Email

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Wichita police reported 83 car break-ins this week. Everything from guitars to orange soda have been part of the loot. With the Christmas shopping season in full swing, signs are up all over town reminding people to lock up and look out.

"Anything left in the car is an opportunity for thieves," said Lt. Darrell Atteberry, with the Wichita Police Department.

It takes just seconds but can cost you thousands. Smash and grab thefts are something officers say are a problem year-round and tend to worsen during the holidays. Police have stepped up patrols in places like mall parking lots where thieves thrive this time of year.

"The increased patrols have been a benefit. They reduce the numbers in the malls because the thieves know we're watching," said Atteberry.

Even with everything from increased patrols to traffic signs reminding you to keep valuables out of sight, car break-ins are still on the rise.
Of the 83 break-ins this week, 71 happened where valuables worth less than $1,000 were stolen. 12 saw items snatched worth more than $1,000. Some thefts happened in broad daylight in people's driveways.

"They just don't care," said Mark Emert, who works for American Auto Glass in Wichita.

Even the small and ironic items seem to be fair game.

"Today I saw a back pack with criminal justice books," said Atteberry.

"I've had people come in over 12 packs of orange soda, two dollars in quarters," said Emert.

Auto glass shop workers said this time of year means booming business with vandalism repairs typically accounting for at least one-third of business.

"We're cram packed this time of year just because of Christmas and it will get worse as Christmas gets closer," said Emert.

Glass shops said they usually see business drop significantly after Christmas, but officers said it's not a time to let your guard down and they don't plan to either.

"We're there and we're watching," Atteberry says.

Officers said they see a spike in thefts from cars as school lets out and starts back up. They warn you to keep an eye out in parking lots for people who seem to be walking through cars, looking inside and of course, call 9-1-1 if you suspect trouble.


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