HELENA – Helena Police Department leaders say they’ve seen a significant increase in auto thefts over the last two weeks.
Lt. Jayson Zander said vehicles have been stolen from three auto dealerships around the city, as well as several private owners. In one 24-hour period this week, five vehicles and two trailers were stolen in the Helena city limits.
Investigators haven’t determined yet whether the thefts are connected, but Zander said the crimes at dealerships may well be linked.
“We’re definitely seeing a common pattern here that we haven’t seen in the past,” he said.
HPD has recovered two of the vehicles taken from dealerships so far.
Zander said auto theft is usually a “crime of opportunity,” so the best thing to do is to make sure you’re not an easy target.
“The number-one thing is what we’ve said many times in the past: Make sure you’re locking up your vehicles, you’re not leaving keys in there, an extra set in the center console or somewhere in the vehicle,” he said. “That, a lot of times, seems to be how these guys are getting hold of the keys to the vehicles.”
With cold weather approaching, Zander also reminded drivers they should never leave their cars unattended while they’re idling outside. He said HPD usually sees an increase in auto thefts during the winter.
“If you’ve got a vehicle with keyless remote start, where you can start your vehicle and it still remains locked, that’s an option,” he said. “It’s certainly a cheaper option than having to pay for a new vehicle.”
If you see any suspicious activity around parked vehicles, especially at night, you’re encouraged to contact the Helena Police Department.