It may seem like common sense to lock your car when you leave it, especially if you have valuables inside. But town of Poughkeepsie police say many are leaving their doors unlocked, and having their cars ransacked overnight. YNN's John Wagner has the story.
TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Hundreds of Poughkeepsie residents have fallen victim to their own sense of security. Police say the last three months have seen a spike in car thieves, stockpiling GPS devices, iPods, even spare change. Rather than breaking windows, this ring targets unlocked cars.
"It's very surprising that in a neighborhood like this, something like this could happen," said Carmine Comizio, a victim of a car break-in. "Now, when I come inside, yeah I'm very cautious now. I look around to see if anybody's waiting. When my sister and mother walk to the car late at night, I watch them and make sure that they are safe."
Fed up with the rash of break-ins, Dave Coxen decided it was time to take his block back, starting his own neighborhood watch program. "Just be a good neighbor, that's what we're supposed to be doing anyway," said Coxen. "Mostly you are the eyes and ears of the police department. When you live in a neighborhood, you understand what's normal and what's not."
Almost all of these thieves are showing up in neighborhoods during overnight hours. Colburn Drive is much less appealing to the bandits, with locals taking precautions, on the lookout.
"You should take precautions, locking your car, put it in the garage, locking your doors," continued Dave Coxen, "it's not 1950 any more."
There were nearly 100 break-ins just in November alone. That's more than the combined numbers from January through August.
"If they happen to come through your neighborhood and you've made it easy for them, well guess what, you are going to be a target," said Jim Beretta, a Colburn Drive resident. "They need to not be leaving things like GPS in plain view and leaving their vehicles open."
"If your vehicle has been rifled through, please call the police and let us know even if you don't believe anything was taken, just so we have an idea that these criminals are working in your particular neighborhood," said detective Captain Paul Lecomte of the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department.
Three recent arrests have slowed down this months crime numbers, but they still sit well above average. Just as police rely on locals for a break in the case, neighbors are depending on the guy next door.
"If you live next to me. I'm going to look out for you," explained Coxen. "I expect you to look out for me, that's what we're supposed to be doing in the first place. They can't do anything to us if we're both watching each other's back."