Windows were smashed and property was swiped after thieves break into 33 vehicles in Howard County

Posted at 6:04 PM, Aug 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-02 18:26:15-04

It's been a busy week for repair shops in Columbia. Dozens of people needing their car windows replaced after a rash of break-ins in the neighborhoods around Lake Elkhorn.

In all, Howard County Police say 33 vehicles were hit early Saturday morning.

"It looks like they just broke the window, and everything from the center console was thrown in the middle of my seat and there was glass everywhere,” Jane Lagioia said.  

Her security camera captured part of the crime spree. In the footage you can see someone smash her driver-side window then ransack the car.

"I could see him leaning in the car, so that's probably why we didn't hear anything, because the alarm never went off," Lagioia said.

It was a quick job, and in just a few minutes the video shows two people fleeing the area.

Investigators say most of the autos were locked, but the crooks did more than just cause damage.

"We had five cases where property was stolen from the vehicles including handgun ammunition in one case, as well as a purse, and a camera, and some other small items," Howard County Police Spokesperson Sherry Llewellyn said.

So far this year, there have been more than 1,000 cars, trucks and SUVs broken into and burglarized across the county. That number is slightly up from this same time last year, however, police say they are seeing a spike in another crime.

"We've had a significant increase in auto thefts, 44 percent, and more than half of them are a result of people leaving their keys inside the car," said Llewellyn.

A disturbing trend she says is happening across the region. Yet there isn't anything groundbreaking you can do so you're not a victim.

"Lock your car, don't leave a key in it, park it in a well-lit area if you can,” Llewellyn said.

It's advice Lagioia heeded, but she's still out $350 to get her window fixed. She calls the break-in an inconvenient and violating crime.

"I just feel jittery,” Lagioia said. “You should be able to come home and feel safe."

So far, investigators say they don't have any solid leads on who committed the rash of car break-ins. If you saw something that night or know anything about the crime, give Howard County Police a call.