Reporter’s Notebook: I Learned the Hard Way to Lock My Car
ST. CLOUD - Last Friday I was a victim of a crime here in St. Cloud. Sometime during the night someone opened the door to our vehicle, parked in the driveway, and rifled through our things. They didn't get much, maybe a few dollars in change is all, but it is still disturbing.
And, I do realize, given the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, this crime is minuscule.
It was a crime of opportunity, for the first time since we bought our home about three years ago, we left the car unlocked. Every other night we have put the car in the garage. We were just pressed for time for a social event on Friday evening and assumed it would be fine in our quiet, otherwise very safe, neighborhood.
When we discovered the theft Saturday morning we were upset and unsettled that someone would be in our driveway while we were upstairs sleeping, but we didn't think much of it beyond that, after all, it was just a few bucks in change. When we saw a police officer at our neighbor's house down the street we decided to stop and report it.
Apparently, the thieves made their way through our neighborhood that night looking for unlocked vehicles. In that particular crime, the crooks left behind some pretty valuable items. The police officer on scene told us, more often than not, the criminals are just looking for guns.
Earlier this week while talking about my experience here at work I found out that a co-worker also had her car ransacked on the same night. She lives in Sauk Rapids, not St. Cloud, so I have to assume that it was the work of different individuals.
It got me wondering if this type of crime is on the rise here in the St. Cloud metro area. Assistant St. Cloud Police Chief Jeff Oxton says he looked up the numbers and it doesn't appear that the number of thefts from vehicles is up this year.
But, a ton of these crimes are similar to your case where people leave their vehicles open and it is an opportunistic theft, they'll pull the handle and if the car is open they'll go inside, and if not they'll keep walking.
According to police records, there have been 230 reported thefts from vehicles in St. Cloud so far this year. That compares to 271 reports in all of last year, and 418 reported cases in all of 2015.