St. Charles police add patrols after spike in auto thefts

ST. CHARLES, Mo. - "Warmup" auto thefts are a common problem in winter months, as drivers leave vehicles unattended. But authorities are noticing a pattern in St. Charles: many of the recent cases were reported at apartment complexes.

"We've noticed a trend over the last two months," St. Charles Police Lt. Tom Wilkison said. "Vehicles are being taken near I-70 and South 5th Street at an apartment complex, Metro on 5th."

All but one of the eight vehicles reported stolen in recent weeks happened at the complex, where several cars are located in a lot.

"That's where most of the stolen autos have occurred. This particular apartment complex is within one mile of Interstate 70," Wilkison said. "So they're stealing the cars as they're warming up, and they're on the highway before a 911 call is probably even made."

Wilkison said these cases serve as a reminder to all drivers, not just those who live in apartment complexes.

"Be near your car. Be inside your car. Don't leave your car unattended and warming up," he said.

Wilkison said the department added extra patrols and has alerted residents to be mindful about attending to their vehicles.

The area in question has seen a remarkable growth in recent years, Wilkison said.

"Restaurants, condos, business, and offices. On the other side of the apartment complex is a new medical building," he said. "So it's an area that's seen increased development along with the convention center. A lot of improvements in that area."

Fifteen vehicles were reported stolen since October 2017, he said. The first batch of cases occurred in residential areas, whereas the latter ones took place at the apartment complex.

Some of the vehicles were recovered, Wilkson said. They were found abandoned in north St. Louis County and the city of St. Louis.

No arrests have been made. Anyone with information about the auto thefts should contact the St. Charles Police Department.