ST. LOUIS – Car break-ins caught on camera during lunch hour in south St. Louis. But it’s unclear if the evidence has made it into police hands. That’s because of a St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department policy when it comes to handling such calls.
The department says its policy is to take reports only over the phone.
“This is what happened to my window: glass all in my car,” Jamie Derleth said.
Someone smashed out the rear passenger window of her car around 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
“He hit three cars in a matter of four minutes,” she said.
Tammi Voracek’s car was another. “I thought my window was down at first,” she said, “…and I didn’t remember leaving it down, and then my friend Ashley screamed that our windows were broken.”
They were parked on Cherokee in south St. Louis, where surveillance video shows a suspect driving up in a truck with no plates. He looks through an unlocked car on one side of the road, then walks to the other side, where he broke out the windows of Voracek’s and Derleth’s vehicles.
Derleth said he got “no money, but there were some gift cards in there.”
The suspect returned to his truck, sitting inside for several minutes before going back across the street for something large. It turned out to be a present Voracek was about to deliver for her nephew’s birthday.
“A whole bunch of Hot Wheels, a huge truck, a bubble wand a Nerf gun,” she said. “It was just a miscellaneous $70 worth of stuff for his birthday.”
They both said the police told them that officers would not respond in person.
“We got the video ourselves,” Derleth said. “So, we have the guy who did it; we just don’t know how to get him.”
Voracek added, “I had just cleaned my car the day before, so the fingerprints on it were fresh. They had to have touched my car, because there were prints on it that weren’t mine.”
A St. Louis police spokesperson confirmed the department received three calls for car break-ins in that area Sunday. They also confirmed that it is standard for police to take reports like these over the phone.
The spokesperson said he did not know if the police reports had been taken yet in these cases or if the video had been secured.
Voracek said she finally got a call back from the police.
“I got it at 1:11 this morning, and it was a restricted number. I didn’t answer it because I was in bed and I needed to go to sleep,” she said. “It basically said if I still wanted to file a report, to call the police department, and they left a number.”
Derleth also does not have a report yet. After several failed attempts to reach the department on Sunday, she said someone always promised a return call, but she has yet to receive one.
“I haven’t even tried today,” she said. “I’m just kind of over it right now.”
It leaves them both to wonder if their experiences will ever show up in the city’s crime statistics.
One business owner, who did not want to be identified, said he’s seen many car break-ins recently in areas of south St. Louis right off Interstate 55. He said they’ve all been committed in similar fashion, and he thinks police need to reconsider responding to car break-ins over the phone in some cases, especially where there could be patterns.