Howard Co. sees more than 25 car thefts in January

Posted at 4:29 PM, Feb 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-14 07:57:58-05

Howard County police want to remind people to take an extra step to make sure their cars don't get stolen. 

Last month, there were 25 vehicles reported stolen in the county and now officers are worried it's part of a statewide trend. 

Police say every 40 minutes or so a car is stolen in the state and they say it's because people are leaving their valuables inside of the car, including their key fobs, inside their glove compartments. 

Howard County police say it's not a new problem, but it's an issue that is growing. 

"So in at least one instance the vehicle was left running unattended. So it's really important, even though it's tempting during this cold weather, don't warm up your car and then leave it unattended," Lori Boone, a spokeswoman with the police department, said. 

Last month's high amount of car thefts is worrying officers. 

"Man that's crazy. It shouldn't be that high around here," Rusty Shaown, a Howard County resident, said. 

Shaown says valuables shouldn't be left in the car. 

"No you don't need it. Everything is on your phone nowadays. Take your phone with you and you'll be fine," he said. 

State police agree. 

"Roughly 50 percent of the vehicles stolen in the state of Maryland are unlocked have the keys in the ignition, leaving the key fob of the ignition, it's just one of those things that we need the public to help us with that," Chris McDonald said. 

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While the number of car thefts is rising, that's not what worries McDonald. He's in charge of the vehicle theft prevention council for state police. 

In the mid-90's, 39,000 cars were stolen in Maryland every year. Now that number is more like 13,000 or a third of what it was. 

The big worry for McDonald is how easy everyone's making it for thieves. 

"It defeats the purpose all of those anti-theft devices that are on that vehicle," he said. 

McDonald says valuables left behind are easy targets for criminals. 

"You know thieves are looking for everything that they can do to steal and make a little bit of money," he said. 

So police are warning everyone to look back and lock up and go home with peace of mind. 

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