Patrols target car burglars in area around Splash City

News-DemocratJune 17, 2013 

— A series of car break-ins has prompted more patrols of the Splash City parking lot and nearby businesses and a reminder to patrons to not leave valuables in view in their vehicles.

"We always suggest to our patrons not to leave anything visible in the car," said Collinsville Area Recreation District spokeswoman Elizabeth Davis. "The easiest way to not become a victim is to not let yourself become a victim. Keep your valuables out of sight."

Cars parked at Splash City, Golden Corral, and a hotel were hit last Tuesday by a group of people who knew what they were doing and have experience breaking in to vehicles.

"We believe it's a group targeting us from across the river," said Collinsville Police Maj. Tom Coppotelli. "We have increased patrols down there with plainclothes officers and sporadic enforcement action. Currently, we have no good, strong suspects."

Splash City has also increased its patrols of the parking lot, Davis said. The water park also has video cameras in the parking lot, but, the cameras did not capture the break-ins, Coppotelli said. The thieves manipulated and damaged the vehicle locks by force to get into the cars, Coppotelli said.

Davis said the thieves attempted to break into three vehicles in the Splash City parking lot but were successful in breaking in to only one.

"The car that was broken in to had items in the front seat," she said. "When it gets hot out, crime goes up. We are living in tough economic times and people are willing to do anything it takes to get what they want."

Splash City has lockers patrons can store their valuables in instead of leaving them in a vehicle, Davis added.

"We have lockers available that are not in the locker room, they are visible from the pool deck," she said.

The water park experienced a couple of vehicle break-ins last year, Davis said, but last week's incident is the first one this year.

"My suggestion is, for anyone that goes anywhere, make sure you lock your valuables in the trunk or take them with you," Coppotelli said. "This is happening everywhere, not just Collinsville, and not just Splash City. It's that time of year. There are travelers, people leave things in their cars. It happens everywhere, at motels and at entertainment-type areas. Be very aware of your surroundings. If you see someone who doesn't belong or see someone who appears to be cruising the parking lots, call 9-1-1 or notify the business."

Contact reporter Jennifer A. Schaaf at jschaaf@bnd.com or 618-239-2667.

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