Police urge drivers take simple steps to temper rise in Shawnee auto burglaries

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- Hundreds of people have reported car burglaries in one Johnson County community this year. Police say a simple step could have stopped the majority of the thieves.

The city of Shawnee saw a dip in car break-ins last year with 175 reported. That’s after working about 240 cases in 2013. Between January and November of 2015, the number is up to 259.

Some of the break-ins, and stolen car reports, occurred after people left their cars running in the cold.

"The owner went inside just for a minute, or stopped for a cup of coffee and were just away from their car for a minute and that`s all the time it takes," said Captain Mark Hein.

Hein says the department saw its biggest spike in car break-ins over the summer.

"We had several different groups that moved through the area and they were simply going through residential areas checking doors, and if they found vehicles unlocked they were getting into them and stealing merchandise," said Hein.

The city also took about 120 reports on cars being stolen. Out of both the burglaries, and car thefts nearly 80 percent of the victims had unlocked doors, some with their keys inside. The department has made about 20 arrests.

With the holiday shopping season in full swing, officers want you to take steps to protect yourself. You’re urged to make sure all valuables in your car are out of sight, whether you’re shopping or in for the night.

"You need to take things, your wallet, your purse, your car keys out of your vehicle when you park it for the evening," said Hein.

You’re also encouraged to always lock your doors.

"You intuitively don`t feel like you should have to lock your car in your own driveway, but you do," said Hein.

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