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Crimes of opportunity keeping KC detectives busy with Northland auto thefts

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Detectives with the Kansas City, Mo. Police Department are swamped. Since the beginning of the new year, dozens of vehicles have been stolen in the Northland.

At a pace of nearly two a day, the numbers are adding up and so is the frustration level for police.

"It is frustrating when you're working on things that could be easily prevented," said Detective Ryan Alden.

Det. Alden and the rest of the property crimes detectives are up to their necks in paperwork. A mix of 50 cars, trucks and SUV's have been stolen since January 1. Twenty-six of them were left running and unattended, three more were unlocked with the keys inside. Easy pickings according to Det. Alden.

"We've had them taken from driveways, from gas stations, from grocery stores; they're being taken from everywhere," he said.

They can be taken in seconds. There's proof in a QuikTrip surveillance video. The car with the lights on, is running. The driver is inside the QT store.

"You can see a white U-Haul pickup truck pull in, pull into a spot, they get out of the U-Haul pickup truck and enter into the gray car and then drive off," explained Det. Alden.

In less than 40 seconds, the car is gone. Sara Collins has a similar story. Her car was stolen on January 10 from her Northland apartment complex.

"I was stunned at first, I was like no way! My car is not gone," she recalled.

My boyfriend went out to start the car, came in and got me and we were walking back out to the car and it was gone," Collins continued.

It was an expensive lesson for Collins, even though her insurance company is accepting the claim.

"From what I understand I may get $3,500 for my car. I owe $10,000, so I'm trying to figure out how to come up with seven-grand to pay off that loan and get a new car," she said.

Collins says she's constantly kicking herself, and Det. Alden hopes to never hear that again.

"If you're leaving your car running and the doors unlocked, you're just creating a crime of opportunity," said Det. Alden.

A quick survey of several insurance agencies showed you must have comprehensive insurance to cover a theft. However, some companies frown upon helping the criminals and could have exclusions. So it's very important to read your policy or check with your insurance company, or avoid the hassle and headache and don't leave your car running.

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