St. Clair County Sheriff’s Deputies continued this week an investigation into a string of vehicle burglaries and thefts in four Belleville-area neighborhoods, according to Sheriff Rick Watson.
From June 15 to July 26, there were six reports of burglaries to vehicles and three vehicles stolen in Signal Hill.
In Powder Mill, there were reports of three burglaries to vehicles and one stolen vehicle in the same time period. In Ogles, residents reported six vehicle burglaries, but no stolen vehicles. In Oak Hill, there was one reported vehicle burglary, but no stolen vehicles.
All of the vehicles that were stolen or burglarized were unlocked, according to Capt. Bruce Fleshren. Two of the four stolen vehicles had the keys in them. One of the four stolen vehicles was found in East St. Louis and another was found in Washington Park, Fleshren said.
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Deputies hadn’t identified any suspects as of Thursday.
The sheriff said he and deputies talked with the Signal Hill Neighborhood Association twice in the past week to remind residents to lock their vehicles and not leave valuables in them.
“What it is, is people leaving their cars unlocked, leaving their keys in the cup-holder, leaving a backpack in the back seat,” Watson said. “It’s a crime of opportunity. It’s not like somebody got the windows knocked out because the car was locked.”
Barb Ducey of the Signal Hill Neighborhood Association said crime is not on a long-term increase, but said vehicle burglaries and thefts are the most recent “cyclical” crime.
“One year it was stolen lawn mowers, one year it was bicycles, this year it’s lock your cars. A lot of crimes are crimes of opportunity, and we have the power to stop that,” Ducey said.
Ducey said residents should consider installing motion-sensor lights and make sure they lock their cars, take everything out of their cars, lock their cars even when they’re in a garage, and to lock garages.
“If there’s anything suspicious, call the police,” Ducey said. “If you have something happen at your house, call and report it so the police know what’s going on.”
Anyone with information or surveillance footage of possible vehicle burglaries or thefts can contact the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department at 618-277-3505.