Auto thefts up sharply in Jefferson County; thieves targeting Fo -

Auto thefts up sharply in Jefferson County; thieves targeting Ford pickups

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Johnny Garner's Ford F-250. Credit: KMOV Johnny Garner's Ford F-250. Credit: KMOV

Johnny Garner's the latest victim of a crime trend in Jefferson County, an increase in the number of vehicle thefts.

He went fishing in his boat on the Meramec River Wednesday, but when he returned his Ford F-250 pickup and boat trailer had been stolen.

Garner said, "I hit my unlock and lock to see if it would beep. So I got kind of nervous, ran my boat up on the top of the ramp and came up here. And sure enough looked out here and my truck is gone." 

He said the boat trailer was found abandoned at an apartment complex Thursday in south St. Louis County. He also said his truck was found Sunday and returned on Monday.

In Arnold, police tell News 4 that auto thefts are almost double what they were last year. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department said vehicle thefts in the unincorporated areas of the county were up 42 percent in the first half of the year. 

In 2016, there were 270 vehicle thefts in Jefferson County and by the end of August 2017, there had already been 222.

According to the sheriff's officials, some of the most commonly stolen vehicles are Ford pickups, the model years of  1997-2004. and super duty Ford pickups are getting stolen at a higher rate, also.

"Ford's like the super duties, the 250's and 350's. You can go out to that truck and put a screwdriver in it and start it," said Mike Hewitt of Audio Express on Lindbergh in south St. Louis County.

Hewitt installs security systems on vehicles and has spoken with many victims of car thefts.

He said an alarm system with a kill switch is relatively inexpensive and will stop a thief from stealing a vehicle.

"You'd hit the lock button and it would lock your doors and it would disable the vehicle from being started. You wouldn't be able to start it with a key or hotwire it," said Hewitt.

The simplest step you can take to reduce your risk of having your vehicle stolen is probably to take the keys out and lock the doors. Arnold police said they had four car thefts since September 1 where the drivers left the keys in the ignition.

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