Police chief urges residents to lock cars as vehicle thefts on the rise

Published 10:17 am Wednesday, July 26, 2023

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During the LaGrange City Council work session on Tuesday, Police Chief Garrett Fiveash gave a brief mid-year update on crime statistics within the city. According to the chief, violent crime is down but vehicle thefts are significantly up. That might be because residents are leaving their cars unsecured.

Fiveash said that robbery and aggravated assaults are currently down 39 percent and 21 percent respectively for 2023, year to date.

The chief noted that although those violent crimes are seeing a downtick, motor vehicle thefts are up 17 percent. Much of the problem comes from people leaving their cars unlocked with the keys inside, Fiveash said.

“Currently, we’re in the high 90th percentile of motor vehicles where the car is stolen after being left unlocked and/or the keys are left in the vehicle,” Fiveash said.

Fiveash said LPD obviously wants to reduce or eliminate car thefts, but residents aren’t exactly making it easy for police.

Fiveash noted that he recently noticed a vehicle that was left running outside a local drug store with the windows down, basically inviting the car to be stolen.

“We want to get your car back. We don’t want it to be stolen, but if you leave it running and leave keys in it, that’s kind of operator error at some point,” Fiveash said.

Fiveash said they are going to bring back “gotcha” cards to warn people about leaving their vehicles unlocked.

When police see cars that are unlocked with the keys inside. they will leave a little note warning that their car could have easily been stolen.

“If you leave your keys in your car, and you get a gotcha card that lets them know that someone could have driven off with your vehicle,” Fiveash said.