LENEXA, Kan. — A car is stolen right out of a Lenexa home’s garage after the family shut the door, locked up and went to bed.
They heard their garage door open at 3 a.m. They looked outside to see someone backing their car out of the garage. Behind the wheel – a criminal.
“That would be scary, very scary,” neighbor Emily Gustafson said.
Officer Danny Chavez said thieves got into an unlocked car sitting in the driveway. Inside, they found a garage remote.
They used it to open the garage door and steal another car sitting inside. The keys to that car, sitting in the console.
“If you can hide those garage remotes or take them inside and don’t leave car keys inside the car, even if it’s parked in the garage,” Chavez said.
There’s been an uptick in auto-theft across Johnson Co. Over the last year, Lenexa went from 89 to 168 — an almost 90% increase.
Merriam saw a 59% spike and Leawood’s stolen car reports almost doubled.
In 2020, Overland Park had more than 520 auto thefts.
“It’s kind of scary to think about but absolutely throughout Lenexa and Johnson county there are car thieves and autoburlars going up and down neighborhoods looking for victims,” Chavez said.
A lot of times police see cars are stolen when people are trying to warm them up ahead of work or school. In Kansas, it’s illegal to leave your car running with the keys inside.
“I just try to be mindful to not keep anything too expensive in my car,” Gustafson said. “Lock your car doors and look out for each other. If you see something suspicious report it.”
Gustafson has the right idea. Lock your doors, take valuables inside and avoid auto-thefts and burglaries all together.