JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -Since the beginning of November the Jonesboro Police Department has noticed a sharp rise in car break-ins and car thefts.
The two seem to be connected.
Currently the JPD is investigating over 70 vehicle break ins since November first.
Some are truly break-ins with the vehicle being damaged some way in the thefts.
But a vast majority simply involve opening a door and stealing what's lying around in the car.
Many times the thieves are finding the keys still in the vehicles and the vehicles are being stolen and often abandoned after nearly being destroyed.
Lt. Rick Elliott showed me the past 60 days worth of vehicle break in crimes.
"We're having a few where the windows are being busted out but the majority of these break ins are vehicles that are being left unlocked while they are at the residence."
The majority of items being stolen are GPS, satellite radios, spare change credit cards, checkbooks just anything of value that's inside that can be easily picked up and moved from the vehicle.
40 or so of the recent thefts involved no damage to the vehicles.
Lt. Elliott showed me on the city map where the thefts had taken place. They began around Paula drive and moved North East.
Elliott, "They went across the South end toward Candlewood addition. Sherwood Oaks, then over to Fox Meadow then kind of went North up around the airport road area."
Most of the incidents occurred during the late night, early morning hours.
They're not breaking and entering they are simply going in cars that are unlocked and stealing what they want. But when they are caught the thieves may think that causing no damage may result in a lighter sentence. Elliot says no, it's the entering of the vehicle that makes it a felony plus the theft. The sentence can run up to 5 years per charge.
And there is more to this story. Elliott says not only are they stealing things from inside vehicles. If they find a vehicle with the keys left in it. They take them out sometimes and almost destroy them and then abandon them. Recently a Jaguar was burned out off of highway 163.
Elliott, "In the past couple months we've had over a dozen vehicles stolen during this process of these guys going around to neighborhoods and checking these vehicles."
I scoped out a pick-up at a tow lot in Harrisburg which had been smashed in both front and back with tons of dents and scrapes along the sides.
Elliott says nearly all of these thefts could have been easily prevented.
"Prevention, bare minimum, take your keys out and lock the doors even though it's sitting in your driveway."
Don't think that just because you're driveway seems secluded you're cars are safe. That may make it the perfect target for these thieves.
This is the time of year when we need to really be aware of who is in our neighborhoods. Suspicious people or vehicles need to be reported to the police for investigation.
There have been about 5 of the stolen cars recovered so far and the police need your help in locating more vehicles and the thieves. What information they have is somewhat sketchy at the moment.
At one vehicle theft abandonment, 2 white males were observed getting out of a stolen vehicle and getting into a late model full size metallic blue Dodge pickup.
It may have some kind of sport markings on the truck.
Both men were believed to be around 18 to 20 years old.
If you have any information about this vehicle and it's owners or other vehicle break in and thefts call the Crime Stoppers number 935-STOP with the information.