O’FALLON, Mo. — A wave of car thefts continue to be on the rise in St. Charles County, with thieves most recently hitting O’Fallon over the weekend.
The crimes happened in residential neighborhoods in the Winghaven area. The thieves are still on the loose.
“We are catching them,” said O’Fallon Police Spokesperson Tony Michalka. “We may not have caught the ones that stole the cars last week in O’Fallon but we will.”
This follows a string of car break-ins on Wednesday night in the same region.
One car was stolen and another eight cars were reported broken into with a pistol stolen from one of them.
“This here is organized. This is an organized crime,” said Michalka. “No doubt that these individuals that are out here, are preying on unlocked cars and people leaving their stuff in cars, that they know what they’re doing.”
Police believe some thieves use stolen cars to fuel additional car thefts. A doorbell camera caught what police believe to be a group of suspects checking car doors the same night of the crimes.
Pulling up in a grey Nissan matching the description of another car stolen just days before.
“It’s been about every other day. Somebody will send something in and say they’ve had a car stolen. So, it happens pretty regularly,” said Winghaven resident Ken Nebruer.
O’Fallon police said it’s working with law enforcement throughout the greater St. Louis region. They also reminded folks that the Auto Theft Task Force is out patrolling areas near highways, the highest hit.
“I’m angry. I don’t want this to happen to me, and I certainly don’t want this to happen to you,” said Winghaven resident Karen Decker.
Things are getting back to normal in nearby Dardenne Prairie, where Jamie Demeter waits to hear from detectives about her stolen car.
“We just keep having our fingers crossed,” said car theft victim Jamie Demeter. “We’ve got another two and a half weeks until our rental car insurance runs out.”
Watching thieves use the same tactic the same night, the incident hits close to home.
“We had to change everything from the keys on our house to the keys in my classroom, to all of our checking, savings, credit accounts,” said Demeter. “It’s put a hold on our lives.”
She now double-checks checks her garage is closed. It’s a reminder for all to be extra vigilant, keep your cars off, doors locked, and keys far away from thieves’ reach.
Anyone with information regarding these thefts is urged to call police.