auto update

Auto thefts in Wichita have been down, but increasing as cooler weather nears

Wichita police say following a few simple tips can help vehicle owners thwart thefts and theft attempts, potentially saving “hours or months of headaches” that come with dealing with a stolen car.

So far, auto thefts in the city are down slightly over 2019 — about 7% year to date. But that gap is expected to close in the coming months as cooler weather tempts people to leave their cars running unattended.

With three months left in 2020, Wichita police say they have already received more than 1,600 stolen vehicle reports. September saw a 20% increase in reports over August, Lt. Scott Brunow said.

On average, about 30% still had keys in them when they were taken. That was true in 10 of the 25 stolen vehicle cases reported over the weekend.

“We see it time and time again at convenience stores. People think they can run in real quick, grab something to drink, something to eat, and they come out, their car is gone,” Brunow said. “So please take your keys out of your cars and don’t leave them running.”

If your car is taken, always report it to law enforcement, even if they keys were left in them, Brunow said.

If it’s recovered, consider re-keying the ignition. If your house keys were also stolen, consider changing those locks, too, he suggested.

“We want to jump out in front of it this year, and make sure that everybody’s aware of it. Give a reminder,” Officer Charley Davidson said. “Take those few extra minutes to keep yourself from hours or months of headaches.”

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©2020 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)

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