Dozens of arrests in area car break-ins; police increase manpower for issue

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – Police, prosecutors, and politicians joined forces today to combat crimes on the rise throughout the St. Louis area. They are crimes including mass car break-ins that Fox 2 has been tracking and reporting on a lot lately. 

“It’s obviously regional and we’re doing everything we can to resolve these issues,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Gregory, the Acting Chief of the St. Louis County Police Department. 

Gregory is talking about car break-ins, car thefts, and catalytic converter thefts. 

All three crimes are increasing significantly in the St. Louis region. 

Gregory calls them crimes of opportunity. 

“I don’t think any of us believe that this is an organized gang of people that are doing these thefts. Organized only in the sense that you get a group of guys together and say tonight we’re going to steal a vehicle. We’re going to go to an Amazon parking lot and we want to break into as many vehicles as we possibly can,” said Gregory. 

There are things you can do to not become a target. 

“We want people to take their keys in, okay, don’t leave their keys in unlocked cars, remove their garage door opener from their vehicle when they go into the house, and more importantly don’t leave precious items in your cars- computers, cell phones, and especially don’t leave weapons in your vehicle,” explained Gregory. 

Many local leaders were at a Clayton news conference this morning. 

The focus- trying to combat car break-ins, car thefts, and catalytic converter thefts. 

St. Louis County Police are stepping up patrols with marked and unmarked cars. 

Auto theft task forces are working hard. 

And two St. Louis County Council members, Tim Fitch and Mark Harder, are trying to get three bills passed. 

The bills would enable police to arrest people for trying car doors to see if they are unlocked, riding in stolen cars, and for not keeping proper records on catalytic converters that they possess. 

Suspects would face misdemeanor charges. 

The bills are scheduled to get preliminary consideration at tonight’s County Council meeting and could be passed in three weeks. 

“Until these groups of individuals are taken down and charged and put in jail so they can’t do this it’s going to continue,” said Fitch. 

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell and St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar spoke at the event about the importance of agencies all working together to solve cases. 

“That’s why we’ve dedicated three prosecutors so that when that case comes in, we can match that individual to see if it fits into any of these other carjacking rings and that’s how we can streamline information,” explained Bell. 

St. Louis County Police have made a total of 100 arrests so far this year in connection with car break-ins, car thefts, and catalytic converter thefts. 

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