Crime Alert: Thefts from motor vehicles on the rise

Columbia citizens have had over $332,000 worth of property stolen from motor vehicles this year, and the number continues to increase.

Since January 1, 2017, the Columbia Police Department has taken 655 reports of thefts from motor vehicles. That is 207 more reports than the same time last year. Of the 655 reports, 99 of them include firearms and/or firearm related accessories being stolen. In some of these reports, more than one firearm was stolen from the vehicle.

Just last Friday, six firearms and several cases of ammunition were stolen from locked vehicles primarily in the area of Stadium Boulevard between Rock Quarry Drive and Goodwin Point. The thieves forced entry into the vehicles, checked gloveboxes and center consoles, and took the items easily accessible, including the firearms.

Despite this specifically targeted area last Friday, these thefts are occurring all throughout the city. In August, a map generated from the online Community Crime Map was posted to our social media sites that illustrated nearly every theft from motor vehicle report taken. At that time, there had been 436 reports made; a majority of which involved unlocked doors.

These thefts are opportunistic crimes. Thieves will oftentimes walk through neighborhoods or parking lots and check car doors. Valuables left in plain view inside a vehicle can make that vehicle more of a target. It’s important to remember to remove and/or hide all valuables, roll up the windows, and lock your doors.

Firearms should not be left inside vehicles overnight. If you must leave a firearm inside a vehicle for any reason, take steps to responsibly stow the firearm. Firearms should be stowed out of sight and secured inside a lockbox which is fixed to the interior of the vehicle. Never leave firearms or valuables of any kind inside gloveboxes and/or center consoles.

Our officers continue to investigate these crimes. We will increase patrols, as resources allow, in areas throughout the city. We encourage citizens to report any suspicious activity and/or people to the non-emergency line at (573) 442-6131, or report suspicious activity online.