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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The City of Eureka passed an ordinance that makes it illegal for people to check door handles to see if they can find one that is unlocked.

“If you’re going to steal a car, steal it somewhere else. Don’t steal it in Eureka,” said Eureka Mayor Sean Flower.

The mayor said the new ordinance is part of the city’s crackdown on car break-ins and thefts.

“It makes it illegal for someone to go and check a bunch of car doors by pulling on the handles to find one that’s unlocked,” said Flower. “You can’t get in somebody else’s car or tamper with it inside if it’s not your car.”

Mayor Flower said this is considered a lower-level crime but hopes it will stop further car crimes. He said if authorities catch someone committing these crimes, the police department will now have their information on record too.

“We can have our cops get involved early, and really try and discourage people from doing that early, and plus we can also get their information, we can start trying to prevent crime as opposed to waiting for it to happen afterward,” Flower said.

He said other municipalities and police departments have been contacting them to get guidance on the language of their ordinances. Flower said he hopes other cities follow suit.

Eureka’s neighbor, the city of Wildwood, has already started to. Wildwood Mayor Jim Bowlin said the city is introducing similar ordinances at its meeting Monday. Mayor Bowlin said Wildwood has seen a 300% increase in car break-ins in recent years. He said he would be surprised if the ordinances don’t pass.

“It’s going to send a message — don’t commit crimes in Wildwood,” Wildwood Mayor Jim Bowlin said. “The western part of St. Louis County is seeing an uptick in these car crimes.”

Similar bills were introduced in St. Louis County but have not been officially passed yet.

In St. Louis City, a bill was passed that makes it “unlawful for an individual to lift the door handles or otherwise try the doors and locks of successive vehicles to gain entry to the vehicles unless the individual is the owner of the vehicles or has the owners’ permission to enter the vehicles.”

However, St. Louis City Mayor Tishaura Jones said in October that she wants to work on the provisions of the bill. Despite that, the bill went into effect without her signature.

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