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A wave of car thefts is plaguing our neighborhood

06/06/2018 8:30 AM by

Once every 44 seconds, a car is stolen in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Are you concerned that one day you’ll wake up and your car is missing?

ABC8 News recently reported on one of the latest car thefts in the area (since then Saxton’s car was found). Check out the story here.

“It’s a sick feeling in my stomach really,” said Church Hill resident Darren Saxton. “It’s just a shame.”
Darren Saxton is one of those victims. Sunday morning started out like most others until Saxton stepped outside.
“Opened the door,” said Saxton. “And realized my car was missing. Happy Sunday.”

Richmond police reports that car thefts are up this month compared to the same time last year. Recently, City Council member Kristen Larson proposed a plan to pay residents 100 dollars to install security cameras. The footage would then be used for investigations. The proposed amendment was met with questions from council members who said they wanted more details about how the program would be administered.

“It seems like to me this would be a public safety issue relative to making these applications public and someone knowing where the cameras are, avoiding that area, and pushing issues and problems to other areas,” Council President Chris Hilbert said.

The MO of these criminals is the same- middle of the night, hoodies and able to enter the cars without breaking glass or causing damage. But how do they start the engine? It’s not supposed to be as easy as clicking to wires like they do in the movies, so how are they doing this?

There are devices that can mimic the function of a key fob in modern cars. But how? Technology. Criminals can clone key fobs, jam the signals, use relay boxes, and basically hack your car into opening without turning the alarm on. Check out this article to learn ways to prevent this from happening.

Thieves have so far hit the 600, 700, 800 blocks of Church Hill North. They’ve also hit Fulton and the Chimborazo area. Most of the cars have been found so far.

Becoming the victim of vehicle theft can be a frustrating and emotionally draining experience, but police officers from the 1st district have options on how you can deal with this crisis:

– Think things through before you assume your car actually stolen. Take a moment to assess whether anything else could have happened (towing comes to mind).
– While you may go try to find your own car, exercise caution. Do not go into neighborhoods that you don’t know without a police escort.
– Some cars have OnStar capabilities to track exactly where your car is. Use that information and request the police to locate the car for you.
– Do not leave your car unlocked.
– Do not ever leave your car running with the keys in it for any reason. It only takes a moment for someone to hop in for a joy ride. (The Saxton’s car was found with marijuana and condoms).
– Do not leave valuables in your car. Don’t give someone a reason to break in. If you MUST leave valuables in your car, even a bag or shipping box, do not leave it in plain sight. Or put your valuables in the trunk!
– Report ALL attempted break-ins, property theft, etc. to the Richmond Polic Department. Non-Emergency number (804) 646-3602.
– Call your auto insurance – this can help protect you in case your car is used to cause damage or harm after the theft. HOWEVER, be aware that many insurance companies will also have to rule out who the thief is before making any payments or honoring any claims. This means they’ll have to rule YOU out. Basically, don’t commit insurance fraud (which is not what’s happening here at all).

Many of you have written us about what we can do as a community to prevent and combat these crimes. There’s this palpable frustration about police intervention and holding people accountable. Do not for any moment think you are powerless. Continue to report all types of illegal activity. If the police isn’t aware of what is happening then there could be a potential lack of resources in your part of the neighborhood. Bringing awareness and having a community conversation is a start, but action is needed.

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No key required: How thieves use relay boxes to steal cars



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