GERMANTOWN HILLS, Ill. (WMBD) — The Woodford County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging people to lock their car doors and keep the keys in a safe place.
Chief Deputy Dennis Tipsword said there have been more than 50 reports of car break-ins across the area. It’s likely that more break-ins have happened and haven’t been reported, he said. An additional six cars in the area were reported stolen, but have since been found.
“We think of ourself, Woodford County, [as] a rural county: it’s quiet. We don’t have a lot of crime,” said Tipsword.
Sheriff’s deputies arrested people connected to the incidents over the past few weeks, including some not even old enough to drive.
But, Tipsword said all the break-ins could’ve been avoided.
“There’s been no forced entry into the vehicles and the vehicles that were stolen all had the keys left in them as well,” said Tipsword.
It’s creating an opportunity for people looking to get in, he said. The sheriff’s office shared Ring Doorbell footage from late April, showing a group trying to get into a car. Tipsword said when they couldn’t get into the locked car, they left.
“We want to make sure they understand this isn’t a good idea to come to Woodford County and commit these kinds of crimes,” said Tipsword.
The uptick in reports is changing some neighbors habits.
“It’s a conscious effort for me to go lock the car especially and to check our house is all locked in the evening,” said neighbor Eva Friday.
Friday said she’s not worried.
“I do have confidence that they will get caught,” she said.
Tipsword said people can also hand over security camera footage if they have any.
“You never know what tiny piece of evidence may break the entire case wide open, so we want to see it all,” said Tipsword.
The sheriff’s office encourages people to speak up if they see something and call police.