ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. - There’s been alarming news from police across west St. Louis County in recent days: car thefts have skyrocketed from Kirkwood to Clayton, Ladue, Chesterfield, Webster Groves, and Eureka.
Victims are making it easy and the consequences are dangerous.
Kirkwood police have posted surveillance videos on Facebook of thieves scouring neighborhoods, checking for open doors, and keys left in cars.
Word is spreading that west county is full of easy targets, police said.
Clayton Interim Police Chief Mark Smith told Fox 2/News 11 his department had 5 cars stolen in the past week; 2 from the same house.
Kirkwood police reported 6 cases in the past week.
Chesterfield police reported 5 just over the weekend; 16 since May 1 compared to 23 total for all of last year.
Thieves often are looking for a car for the night or simply to joy ride.
But there was no joy for 4 teens charged as adults in St. Louis County Court on Tuesday.
They are Jason Hinson, 19, of St. Louis; Kyron Wallace, 17, of Florissant; Shakur Martin, 18, of Florissant; and Christopher Carter, 19, of St. Louis.
Two had busted up faces after allegedly stealing from an outlet mall, fleeing in a pickup stolen from Clayton early Monday morning, and crashing it into a storage business in Chesterfield that afternoon, running through a fence, hitting a boat and an RV.
“I couldn’t tell you the last time we had a case of a car being hot-wired,” said Clayton Police Sgt. Keith Rider. “It’s so easy right now when someone leaves the key fob in it. Lock your cars. Take your keys with you. Don’t leave any valuables in your car. The people who are out here doing these things are looking for the easiest route. When they find an unlocked car they’re going to go into it and take whatever they can. If it includes the key to the car, they’re probably going to take the car, too.”
The four suspects charged Tuesday face multiple charges, ranging from stealing and resisting arrest to marijuana possession.