It's something we've all seen before. Someone leaving their keys in the ignition while they run into a store, but while you might think it's okay to leave your car unattended for a few seconds, think again.
"It's a crime of opportunity. We did arrest somebody last week where he had actually stolen 3 vehicles. He resold those vehicles, which we are still trying to follow up and recover those vehicles for the owners," Richmond County Lt. Lewis Blanchard said.
Blanchard says at least 14 people have made that mistake so far this month. They walk inside, come back out, and their car is gone, all in a matter of seconds.
"You never want to blame the victim, however, you are kind of setting yourself up for failure when you leave your car running or leave the keys in it," Blanchard said.
Investigators say the car thefts have been happening all over Augusta, but a lot of them have been happening at gas stations on Washington Road.
"Anytime you have quick, immediate escape route, like Interstate 20, it tends to lend be a problem area and that's where we've seen most of these occur," Blanchard said.
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is beefing up patrols in the area, but you can help them out by following some simple tips.
- Don't leave your car unlocked.
- Don't leave your car running.
- Don't leave personal items out in the open.
- Don't leave your children in your car.
- Be aware of your surroundings
"If somebody is walking around looking in cars, that's how we caught that one gentleman last week. Our undercover officers were watching and they actually physically saw him going around and looking inside of vehicles. They waited until the crime was about to happen before they moved in. But if you see somebody who is looking inside cars, there is something suspicious about that. Notify somebody. Go ahead and call us," Blanchard said.
Investigators say they don't believe a car theft ring is behind the stolen vehicles, instead, they say criminals are on the lookout because it's the holidays.
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