WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita police are warning residents in northwest Wichita to be vigilant after a rash of car break-ins.
“It’s kind of nerve-racking. It kind of makes me worry,” said Wichita resident Katie Eilrich.
“I was just really surprised,” said shopper Becky McPeak.
Wichita police said there have been more than 40 car break-ins near and around New Market since the beginning of 2017.
“There are a lot of cars parked up there in that area so they have been noticing both cars locked and unlocked are getting broken into and valuables are being taken out of it,” said Wichita Police Sgt. Nikki Woodrow. “Just because it’s in the middle of daylight on a Tuesday, doesn’t mean you’re not going to be a victim of it.”
On Tuesday, Wichita police posted a message to Facebook warning people who live, work, shop or hang out it in the area of Maize and 21st Street and Tyler and 21st Street to remove all of their valuables from their vehicles.
“It’s so easy to walk by a car and try a door handle and if it’s unlocked, reach in, grab a couple things and go,” Woodrow said. “Don’t be an open invitation for thieves.”
Police said there is some surveillance video of people breaking into cars, but right now they do not have any leads. Woodrow said the department is increasing patrols in the area, talking with business owners about the issue and installing signs reminding people to lock their doors and remove their belongings.
“We are putting those up in that area as well, just as a constant reminder to people, lock your car doors, don’t become a victim if you don’t have to be,” Woodrow said.
Woodrow said it’s unclear if the thefts are related, but she said police have not ruled it out either.
“Thieves sometimes rely on patterns and, you know, if they are in a parking lot and they pull 10 car doors and five of them are open, they are more likely to go back to that parking lot because they are easy targets,” she said.
Police said the car break-ins have happened during all times of the day and night. They said thieves have broken car windows to gain entry into some vehicles.