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An increase in thefts from vehicles since late November is threatening to reverse a downward trend of those crimes.
Columbus Police Department has received eight such theft reports since Nov. 26, spokesman Lt. Matt Myers said.
Before the Thanksgiving weekend, police said they were concerned that vehicle break-ins and petty thefts would pick up dramatically after the holiday weekend. They were correct.
Thirteen thefts, including some from vehicles, were reported Monday alone to police. That’s as many thefts as the three days combined leading up to Thanksgiving, according to police incident logs.
Vehicle break-ins and petty thefts always increase immediately after Thanksgiving because some residents feel a need to grab money any way they can for the upcoming holidays, Myers said.
Among the vehicle break-ins reported Monday:
At 7:14 a.m., a vehicle was discovered broken into in the 1000 block of Michigan Street. But instead of stealing items from inside the car, the thief popped the hood and stole the catalytic converter off the engine, Myers said.
Shortly after 8 a.m., employees of the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.’s Technology Center reported that someone had broken the window of a school district-owned van parked outside 2650 Home Ave., and took a $250 label maker, Myers said.
Later that afternoon, police received a report of car windows busted and items stolen from two vehicles parked outside Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation, 3625 Central Ave., Myers said. A first-shift employee at Kindred discovered a diaper bag and other personal items had been taken from her damaged vehicle, Myers said.
When another employee got to her car shortly after 11 p.m., she discovered that her purse had been stolen, he said. Whoever took the purse immediate attempted to use the victim’s debit card to buy $450 worth of items at the east-side Walmart on Whitfield Drive, but the purchase was denied, Myers said. However, the thief was successful in using the stolen card to pay for meals from Rally’s Hamburgers, near the intersection of National and Beam roads, Myers said. Investigators are using surveillance footage from both businesses in an effort to identify the thief, he said.
Leading into the holiday, city police data had suggested that thefts from vehicles this year would be lower than last year and continue a downward trend.
They dropped from 534 in 2011 to 308 last year, and 245 had been reported through Nov. 26, according to Columbus Police Department data.
Myers suggests that a community-awareness campaign, plus targeting and monitoring of repeat offenders, has been responsible for the decline.
But with the recent uptick, it’s uncertain now whether this year’s figure will end up lower than last year, Myers said.
He urged city residents to use common sense about personal possessions.
“Don’t leave your purses and other valuable items within sight inside a vehicle. Because if people see them this time of year, they are going to take them,” Myers said.
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