ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – Authorities in St. Charles County are touting a successful crackdown on the recent “epidemic” of car thefts and break-ins, announcing more than two dozen arrests at a news conference Tuesday.
Seven leaders from police departments in the county that are part of a new auto theft task force gathered to send a message to would-be car thieves.
“We’re looking for you,” said St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar. “It’s not going to be long before you get caught…last night was the busiest night.”
Authorities report 10 arrests Monday night and early Tuesday morning. At least two of them here caught by a FOX 2 camera after a pursuit that reportedly started in the O’Fallon-St. Peters area. The pursuit ended on West Florissant near Interstate 70 in north St. Louis around 3:30 a.m. after police spike strips flattened the tires on the suspected stolen vehicle.
Authorities believe most of the stolen vehicles were bound for chop shops in north St. Louis and north St. Louis County, with eastbound I-70 over the Blanchette Bridge becoming a primary getaway route.
The task force is sharing resources from all of its departments. Police from Lake St. Louis were at the scene in north St. Louis this morning.
The task force reports 26 arrests in its first two weeks, with 14 suspects charged.
On average, five or six vehicles are reported stolen from St. Charles County every night, Lohmar said.
“These individuals are coming out to our county riding 4 or 5 deep in a car,” said St. Charles County Police Chief Kurt Frisz. “They’re definitely shopping for cars. They hit a neighborhood, start flipping door handles or find a car that’s running unoccupied.”
“We are asking judges in all tampering with motor vehicle (car theft) cases for high bonds,” Lohmar said. “The idea is, if you come out to St. Charles County and you get caught stealing a motor vehicle, you’re not going home that night. On the sentencing side, we’re recommending mandatory prison sentences.”
The charges typically carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison but Lohmar stressed these are not petty offenses and often lead to more serious crimes.
Four weapons had been seized from suspects thus so far, he said.