Auto theft a stubborn problem

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Auto thefts, which occur every 46 seconds in the U.S. according to FBI data, continue to plague drivers in Central Illinois.

Illinois ranks ninth among states for number of motor vehicle thefts, and the Decatur Police Department reports that, in March, they investigated at least six cases car thefts. Half of those cases involved keys left inside the vehicle, investigators said.

“Never leave your keys in the ignition, ever, not even for a minute,” said crime prevention education officer George Kestner. “Always roll your windows up. Keep your valuables out of plain view.”

Christal Schroth of Decatur said her car was stolen during her fiancé’s visit to a convenience store.

“He called me and said ‘Christal, Christal, somebody just stole the car,” Schroth said. “He had the keys in his pocket, but we had the push-button start.”

Along with calling police, Schroth shared photos and information about the theft on social media, eventually recovering the car and identifying the person who took it.

“My kids could have been in there, you know?” Schroth said. “Make sure you look the doors.”

Some automobile models and years are more popular among thieves than others. To see how your model stacks up, click here.  

Officer Kestner said drivers can also help police by keeping information about their car and contacting authorities immediately after a theft.

“Take photographs of your vehicle,” Kestner said. “That would be very useful for the responding officer if you’re calling in after your vehicle’s been stolen, because you shouldn’t wait.”

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