ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — There’s been a breakthrough in the car break-in cases that have been plaguing the entire St. Louis area in recent months. A suspect has been jailed on 19 felony counts.
Authorities are now calling on the rest of us to do our part to combat the crime trend. For criminals, it’s as easy as the tap of a $10 hammer made for shattering glass.
“It’s quick. It’s fast. It’s easy. They have so many tools, so many tools you can buy to break into a car. It’s almost mind-boggling,” said Berkeley Police Chief Art Jackson.
Thieves have shattered hundreds of shattered vehicle windows in the St. Louis region, in both Missouri and Illinois, during the fall and winter months.
Tishon Wordlaw, 20, of north St. Louis County, is accused of breaking into more than a dozen vehicles at an air cargo delivery center in Berkeley near Lambert Airport in October. He was found him with four guns stolen from the vehicles shortly after the crimes, according to police. His bond was set at a $250,000.
“We’ve made it a point that we’re going to be aggressive on these cases. This is an example of that,” said St. Louis County Prosecutor, Wesley Bell. “(These crimes are) very personal to victims, not only their way of getting around, their way of getting to work, taking care of their family, but also when there are firearms in the car, it also becomes dangerous. And some of these groups that are doing these kind of cases are armed.”
In November, Bell told FOX 2 that a task force would work to combat thefts from cars, which had also become rampant.
“A good thing about it is we are communicating, all of the municipalities, trying to curb this crime,” Jackson said. “We need more of this. We need to share more information. We need to work together even more so, We can get start prosecuting some of these cases and getting these individuals.”
The suspects seem to be looking for guns to steal, above all else.
“There are lots of places you go that you can’t take your firearm in. You want to respect the laws. You have to leave it in your car and the criminals know that,” said Jim McGarry, who operates the Classic Arms of St. Louis store in Wellston.
He recommends lockboxes to gun buyers. He showed one that costs $46. It can be secured to your vehicle by cable or be bolted down, and it’s TSA approved for air travel.
“If you spend $600 to $1000 to $1200 to $2000 on a handgun, $40 to $50 (for a lockbox) is nothing compared to a $1200 gun,” he said.
Bell also recommended properly securing valuables, if you must leave them in your car.
“Individuals making smart decisions, not leaving stuff in their car, that’s our first line of defense,” Bell said. “Almost game-planning it, ‘OK, what’s in my car’ and assuming, ‘if I leave it, it’s going to be gone.”
Essentially, if you leave it — lock it.