Car thefts on the rise


MADISON COUNTY, Ill. – A plague of area car thefts now stretches from St. Charles County, Missouri to Madison County, Illinois. Two more stolen car pursuits overnight ended with no arrests.

Just one week after authorities in St. Charles County announced quick, early results from their new auto theft task force, police in Madison County had those two overnight stolen car pursuits overnight.

One of them ended under the Clark Bridge in Alton around 3 a.m.

Police have not yet tracked down a suspect; the same goes for another car stolen from Godfrey, Illinois and recovered in West Alton, Missouri overnight.

The car under the bridge was one of four stolen from the Country Club Drive area of Edwardsville last week, police said. All had been recovered with no arrests, so far. A handgun was missing from one of the cars.

“Edwardsville is experiencing the same thing as Glen Carbon, Granite City, Alton, Jerseyville, this greater St. Louis area, as well as St. Charles,” said Major Mike Fillback, Edwardsville Police Department. “All of us are experiencing the same thing to different degrees.”

There were great similarities between what he said Wednesday and what police with the St. Charles County Auto Theft Task Force said last week.

“Oftentimes it’s a stolen vehicle being driven with multiple occupants that come to our area,” Fillback said.

“These individuals are coming out to our county riding 4-deep, 5-deep in a car. They’re definitely shopping for cars,” said St. Charles County task force member & St. Charles County Police Chief Kurt Frisz.

“All four of (our stolen) vehicles had the keys left in them,” Fillback said.

“Don’t leave your keys or key fobs in the car,” Frisz warned.

The two were essentially telling the same stories and giving the same warnings on opposite sides of the river one week apart.

“Take your keys in. Take your valuables in,” said Fillback.

“Report anything suspicious,” said Frisz.

“If you hear something, see something that is suspicious to you, call us,” Fillback said. “Let us come out and investigate. The quicker we can get into that area and start checking for it, maybe we can catch these folks.”

It did not appear to be a case of police focusing efforts in one part of the area and simply pushing thieves to another part, though north St. Louis City and County appear to be the final destination for nearly all of the stolen vehicles.

The St. Charles County Task Force reported 26 arrests in its first two weeks. Still, vehicle thefts have continued there, according to police, but none has been reported in Edwardsville since the four last week.

It appears thieves are simply looking for easy targets no matter where you live, police said.

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