ST. LOUIS – There is a frightening new St. Louis-area crime trend: thieves striking in daylight and early evening hours.

Jose Williamson of Clayton told FOX 2 someone drove off in his car as he was wiping it down at a car wash.

“I was drying down the rear windshield,” he said. “I had my back to it. I heard the car door slam. Within seconds, the thing was started and going away from me… I started yelling and running down the street, ‘My car’s been stolen!’”

That was two Friday mornings ago at 10:30 a.m. at the Club Car Wash in the Maplewood Commons shopping center, on Hanley near Manchester in Maplewood.

Williamson said he’d backed into the car vacuum area, leaving his key fob on the console to keep the automatic lock feature from engaging as he wiped down his vehicle; a car backed in next to his; moments later, he heard his driver door open. The engine started, and both cars took off.

It’s not something you think about at the car wash.

“No, I don’t, unfortunately, because crime’s so bad, you kind of get anesthetized,” said Myra Carrico, who was at the car wash with her brother, Thursday.

“It was very emboldened of these guys to do what they did,” Williamson said. “They knew what they were doing. They’d done it before.”

Police from multiple departments tell FOX 2 they’re seeing more daytime and early evening crimes.

A gunman recently tried twice to carjack women around 11:00 a.m. in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood of south city. Thieves were back in the same area Wednesday around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday, checking for unlocked cars. St. Louis police also reported an attempted carjacking Monday afternoon in Dogtown.

Clayton police say a gunman robbed a mail carrier of his cellphone and attempted to steal his mailbox keys on Ridgemoor around 10:00 a.m. Tuesday.

“Something has to happen to those people; good, bad or indifferent,” Williamson said. “People push back and that’s a dangerous thing to do, but I think that would be the only way.”

Police found Williamson’s vehicle in Bellefontaine Neighbors, about three hours after the crime.

The rearview mirror was missing. His cell phone, cash, and credit cards were stolen.

GPS showed his vehicle was in The Grove neighborhood after it was stolen, he said. He has tracked his phone to the same area. Maplewood police have yet to make any arrests.