War veteran has uniform, medals stolen during Arch visit - KMOV.com

War veteran has uniform, medals stolen during Arch visit

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- The growing number of car break-ins in downtown St. Louis seems to be hitting visitors especially hard, and leaving them with a bad impression of the city.

Katie Stoeckel is one tourist who left St. Louis with a very bad taste and her mouth. She and her husband, Ethan, a decorated war veteran, were visiting from Hawaii when they stopped by the Arch grounds just after 12 p.m. on April 10.

They even snapped a picture of their truck from the top of the Arch. That very truck was broken in to minutes later.

“My husband, he had his uniform and medals and everything and all that stuff he had earned from Afghanistan. All stolen,” said Stoeckel.

She reported the incident to police, but says she wasn’t given the answer she expected.

“I asked if there were cameras anywhere, and they said, ‘no, there’s not.’ Then they proceeded to tell us this happens all the time in the area, which I was shocked. If it happens all the time you haven’t gotten any cameras yet?”

The Stoeckels were just the latest out-of-towners to get ripped off. Members of a local church tour group had their bus broken in to one month ago. 

News 4 asked police what’s being done.

“They parked in a tended lot down on the Riverfront. As much as we’ve done to try to combat this crime, it’s a very frustrating crime. They can break in to a number of cars in just a minute,” said Lawrence O’Toole with St. Louis Metro Police.

Police say they’ve responded to 96 car break-ins downtown this year, up nearly 10 percent from this time in 2011.

They remind drivers to hide valuables, but admit tourists may not get that warning.

“We look for those patterns to see what we can do, if we can patrol better,” said O’Toole. “Anything we can do to work with the property owners to prevent this.”

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