Call for residents to stop making it easy for criminals to break-in and steal cars

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 10:19 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 9:07 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The saying “Old habits die hard,” is proving to be true as police metro-wide say they’re fed up with people’s habits which are helping crime rings, specifically car break-ins and thefts.

One city seeing a rise in this crime is Kirkwood – a town surrounded by Highways 270, 44, and 64. This gives thieves easy ways in and out.

And Kirkwood Police and other metro cities say residents are doing too much to help these thieves move about so quickly.

Resident Chad Kavanaugh knows criminals can hit anywhere.

“It happens a lot more often than people think,” Kavanaugh said.

He said he does not let that keep him from enjoying his Kirkwood neighborhood, but his guard is up.

“All my cars stay outside,” Kavanaugh explained. “I have a motion flood light on them. Each night. Lock, make sure everything is out of them.”

The Kirkwood Police Department released new video this week of an unidentified man entering a parking garage, to check car handles of vehicles left open. The man can be seen walking between each vehicle, checking several doors. With none unlocked, he leaves.

Kirkwood councilwoman Liz Gibbons sees the frequency of break-ins and thefts trending upwards.

“Sometimes we forget to be vigilant,” Gibbons said.

She said her son recently learned this lesson the hard way after he left his key fob out in his vehicle.

“Earlier in the day he threw his sport coat in the back seat,” Gibbons shared. " [Her son] got home, got out, locked his car but of course the fob was in the car in the sport coat so the car wasn’t locked and his car was stolen that night.

The problem is across St. Louis County.

In Clayton, police are dealing with a 97% increase of car thefts year over year. This past Saturday, officers and volunteers went door-to-door to alert residents.

Clayton Police Chief Mark Smith says this crime is skyrocketing.

“It’s not just a property crime,” Chief Smith explained. “Sometimes these thieves are carrying guns.”

A similar story in Creve Coeur where there were 75 car break-ins in 2022. That’s more than double the year before. And, at least half of these incidents, the owner of the car left the keys or a key fob inside their vehicle making it easy for the criminal to get away.

For Kavanaugh, he thinks criminals like the one spotted in the video posted by Kirkwood PD, will continue to thrive if old habits don’t die.

“It’s just easy things you can do to avoid it and easy pick ins for thieves who want those types of things,” Kavanaugh said.

News 4 did reach out to the Kirkwood Police Department to discuss this type of crime and how police are working to track down suspects. We’re still waiting for responses. Councilwoman Gibbons said she’s aware of several leads Kirkwood PD are working on.