ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. ( - A task force of police departments in St. Charles County formed to combat the growing problems of auto thefts and car break-ins is reporting 26 arrests.

St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar was at a press conference Tuesday with the chiefs of police from across the county.

"We're making a dent, there's no question about that. There's a lot more work to be done," said Lohmar.

A recent rash of car break-ins and thefts has police on high alert across the St. Louis area. Police said within the last few months, thieves have been bolder, breaking into locked vehicles by smashing windows. But police say car thefts and car break-ins have been on the rise across the region for the last 12 months. St. Charles County Police Chief Kurt Frisz said groups of thieves have been driving to St. Charles County hunting for cars to steal.

"They're definitely shopping for cars. And so they hit a neighborhood. They jump into a neighborhood and start flipping door handles and find a car that's running that's unoccupied," he said.

Lohmar said of the 26 arrests made by task force officers, 14 of the suspects have been charged. He also said officers have seized four weapons and recovered eight stolen vehicles. Police said residents can go a long way to helping reduce the problem by not leaving their keys in their car or leaving a car unoccupied while it's warming up.

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