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East End News

A wave of car thefts is plaguing our neighborhood

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.


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

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Jeannie Casey Saxton
Jeannie Casey Saxton 06/06/2018 at 9:42 AM

I was one. 700 block

Church Hill People
Church Hill People's News 06/06/2018 at 9:46 AM

We heard about it Jeannie. Hope you’re coping well- glad the car was found!

Alex Goodmundson
Alex Goodmundson 06/06/2018 at 9:50 AM

Our car was unlocked but had been hit twice so in 4 months both unlocked

Alex Goodmundson
Alex Goodmundson 06/06/2018 at 9:55 AM

I keep saying we should start patrol parties l. I have house guest stating a few weeks and I invite them on the front porch and out back often late night to keep watch.

Dan Rooney
Dan Rooney 06/06/2018 at 10:38 AM

Um…yes, goes with being urban frontier’s-men. That area def has issues…

Jason Paul Smith
Jason Paul Smith 06/06/2018 at 10:47 AM

Our block was hit on a Sunday night in the middle of the night a few years ago. Several of my personal items were taken, and my neighbor’s truck was even stolen! Just remember common sense-don’t leave valuables in plain sight to attract thieves, and practice a good enter/exit routine from your vehicle. Oh, and lock your car! Don’t get out of the car on your phone…look around, make eye contact with people. Let them know you are aware of your surroundings.

Dana C. Kuchem
Dana C. Kuchem 06/06/2018 at 10:54 AM

Many of the cars stolen WERE locked. Thieves these days can copy electronic entry means. I see folks are going back old-school and buying The Club as protection.

Jeannie Casey Saxton
Jeannie Casey Saxton 06/06/2018 at 11:14 AM

Bought 2

Kathi Thomas Ednie
Kathi Thomas Ednie 06/06/2018 at 11:13 AM

The club and keep your keys in a metal case. Or far from windows and doors. The device they use mimics the keyfob.

Chris Dosier
Chris Dosier 06/06/2018 at 11:41 AM

Chris Hilbert’s opposition to the $100 voucher for people to install security cameras was moronic. I doubt a majority of the people going through cars will take the time to search a city database of security camera applications (good luck with the city even being able to produce a searchable database). And even if they did, he is partially right that it would push the activity to other areas, or in other words we would have reduced places to monitor thus concentrating the activity and might actually catch the people versus having it widespread as we do now and no one being caught.

Karen Smith
Karen Smith 06/06/2018 at 12:22 PM

Karol Smith Tompkins “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?” haha! what we were saying last night!

Kelly Alexandra Armentrout
Kelly Alexandra Armentrout 06/06/2018 at 12:38 PM

We’ve lived in Chimborazo for 4 years, the 3 times we left our cars unlocked we got robbed….I hate knowing someone is probably pulling every door handle every single night……we have visible cameras on our porch and it has never deterred them.

Erin Wall-Faxon
Erin Wall-Faxon 06/06/2018 at 8:50 PM

I’ve known 2 people in my life to get their car stolen. Both were on the same night and both left it unlocked with keys inside. One was in Midlothian and one on Northside. Just shows that people are checking door handles every night EVERYWHERE.

Katie Annette Arrowsmith
Katie Annette Arrowsmith 06/06/2018 at 1:14 PM

RPD needs to set up bait cars.

Chris Harnish
Chris Harnish 06/06/2018 at 6:45 PM

RPD needs more bodies and more patrols.

L 06/06/2018 at 2:48 PM

I routinely find dirty handprints all over my car windows where people have obviously peered in. Once or twice literally within a half hour of washing my car. Thankfully I’ve only ever had my car rummaged through once. Every time I have to wonder if it wouldn’t be possible to identify these jerks by the fingerprints/handprints, and why they aren’t more careful not to leave prints.

Juliellen 06/06/2018 at 2:52 PM

Have any of the stolen cars had manual transmissions?

Ex-Hiller 06/07/2018 at 8:49 AM

I would say the only way to keep your vehicle safe is to own a tank, but it seems those are getting stolen too…

Ian 06/07/2018 at 9:34 AM

Paying people to set up security cameras may just be an exercise in throwing money at the problem to seem like something is being done. At least one of the recent reports caught the people on camera but they were wearing hoodies and could not be identified from the footage. We have had networks of security cameras in cities for a couple decades now, think London, and there is not a lot of evidence that they actually reduce crime unless they are also followed up with rapid response and if the police had enough cars and officers on patrol to make that a reality we probably wouldn’t need the cameras in the first place. Before we commit tax dollars it would be great to have solid plans and some evidence that those plans will actually accomplish their intended purposes.

Ian 06/07/2018 at 9:54 AM

The relevant crime statistics from the city for Jan through May/27 of this year can be found at:

The increase seems confined to sectors 111 and 112 which have gone from 35 and 36 thefts to 51 and 52 thefts respectively.

The stats do *not* indicate how many of those were recovered or how many were left unlocked.

Concerned Citizen 06/07/2018 at 2:14 PM

The community needs to start calling the Mayors office about the crime in this area. I called the other day but my one voice isn’t enough. We need to call the mayor, the police chief, etc. and demand action and answers. Church Hill is such a promising area where families and friends want to live in a safe community. Auto theft is not the only issue we are facing in this area as gun violence and drugs are a huge concern of mine too. Have you not also heard gun shots, or seen the men standing on the corner? Please call, please let your voice be heard.

Will Kerr 06/23/2018 at 12:07 PM

Just to update this – My car was stolen at the corner of 23rd and Broad a week ago. If anyone sees a silver Ford Fiesta with plates starting with WXL holla at me.


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