It can happen in a flash. They break out a window. Grab a laptop or purse and they are gone.
In recent weeks Shelby County has seen a rise in vehicle break-ins. Thieves have been scouring crowed parking lots for something of value to steal.
These break-ins are costing automobile owners a lot of money, even if nothing was stolen.
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In the past week a number of car break-ins took place during sporting events at Briarcrest Christian School in Eads. In the wake of the break-ins the school has beefed up security for any future after school activities.
Vehicles parked down the street on Houston Levee Road at 24-hour fitness center Life Time Fitness are even being broken into. Police say they, along with the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, are stepping up patrols of parking lots and sporting events but they cannot be everywhere.
Not even the eye in the sky surveillance cameras can see everything going on. But you can make a difference. Police are encouraging motorists to make sure you don't leave anything of value exposed in your car that could entice a thief.
So keep a clean car. Leave nothing that someone might want to take from you. Most of the people we talked with understand that and are very careful about it.
"Don't do like I did and leave my purse, but I got it covered up," said Ann Mathews.
"They will even break in for cigs," James Ellis. "Yes, we actually had an incident like that in my neighborhood. They were doing stuff like that. But I usually take them in with me, but I got these nice tinted windows and that helps."
But when they do break-in and find something like a wallet or checkbook, you have big problems.
"Violated. It happened to be we had accidentally left our checkbook in the car," said Jean Bethge. "What we had to go through for that taught us a lesson well learned. We had to change everything. To do that it took a week (to fix)."
Crime may not be totally preventable, but you can cut down on your chances of being a victim by keeping a clean car and parking smart. But in the end being lucky is also a big factor. Just don't count on it.