Communities fight back against growing number of car thefts and break-ins

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – Car thefts and break-ins have been a problem throughout the St. Louis area.

One St. Louis County victim asked not to be identified because his case has yet to be solved. He said two of his vehicles were stolen within a 24-hour period.

“It felt like I was having double heart attacks,” he said. The victim said both vehicles were locked.

“One of them was recovered but it’s got thousands of dollars in damages,” he said. “The other one is nowhere to be found yet.”

One Belleville resident said multiple vehicles were broken into on Orchard View Court over the past weekend, including several at a nearby auto shop.

Just last week, we reported on a concerted effort by multiple agencies focused on addressing the problem.

Some efforts have included criminalizing the act of checking door handles to see if they are unlocked. St. Louis City recently passed an ordinance outlawing the act. Some St. Louis County lawmakers are pushing for similar measures.

Wildwood Mayor Jim Bowlin is working with the Wildwood city attorney to craft similar legislation.

“We need to do something to get ahead of this,” he said.

Bowlin has asked the city attorney to include the toughest penalty allowable. The legislation he’s seeking would outlaw what some call “shopping for an unlocked vehicle” and make riding in a stolen vehicle in Wildwood illegal.

Bowlin expects the legislation to be introduced at the city’s next council meeting in December.

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