Careless owners risk losing vehicles by M. Jill Karolevitz The Vermillion Police Department is urging residents to take their keys out of their vehicles, or risk losing them to thieves.
�Since April 6, we�ve had reports of six stolen vehicles,� said Detective Lieutenant Ray Hofman. �All of them have been recovered, but three were damaged and one was completely burned up.�
All of the vehicles that were taken had keys in them, Hofman added.
Of the four damaged vehicles, the first, a 1994 Nissan Maxima, was stolen April 6 from a resident on National Street.
�It was taken north of town on University Road and driven over mail boxes,� Hofman said. �The windshield had also been broken out.�
On May 5, a 1989 Oldsmobile Sedan was stolen from a Duke Street resident. It was later found in a water-filled drainage ditch near Columbus, NE. A 1992 Chevy pickup was stolen May 20 from the downtown area. By the time it was recovered, it had been damaged by a run-in with a power pole at the intersection of Summer and Harvard streets.
�The worst case we�ve had was the most recent,� Hofman said. �A 1991 Geo Tracker was stolen May 29 from a resident on Prospect Street. It was driven to a gravel pit east of Volin and completely burned up.
�The thefts are occurring anywhere from 9:30 p.m. to the early morning hours,� he added.
Hofman is concerned not only with the multitude of vehicle thefts, but also with the escalation of damage. He is urging residents to keep an eye out in their neighborhoods and report suspicious activity to the police department by calling 677-7070, or the Crime Tips line at 677-7055.
But more importantly, Hofman wants drivers to remove their keys.
�I just want to say ?wake up, people. We have a problem,�� he said. �Someone is out there taking cars and the results are progressively getting worse. We�ve gone from taking cars and driving them over mailboxes, to arson.
�Take your keys out of your cars,� Hofman continued. �Even when you park them at home, they are still at risk if the keys are left in the ignition.�