Thefts from motor vehicles on the rise



A number of thefts from motor vehicles throughout Washington County has authorities warning residents to take steps so they're not victimized.

Thieves have been targeting vehicles at construction sites, businesses and residences, taking whatever is of value, said Sgt. Mark Knight of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Since January, 44 thefts from motor vehicles were reported to the Washington County Sheriff's Department, he said.

Knight said there were 299 thefts from motor vehicles in 2001.

About one-fourth of the 44 thefts reported this year were from unlocked vehicles or vehicles in which valuables were left in plain view, he said.


Don't entice thieves by leaving things out, he said.

"It's an opportunistic crime. Nine times out of 10 if they don't see what they want, they'll move on to the next one," Knight said.

Knight advises locking all valuables in the trunk. That includes tools, electronics, purses and cellular phones, which are commonly stolen, he said.

The Richard A. Henson Family YMCA on Eastern Boulevard has been a repeated target of thefts from cars, with four reported to the sheriff's department since Feb. 25, Knight said.

The gym is open long hours, which means there is a plentiful supply of vehicles to rob, he said.

YMCA Executive Director Mike Flicek did not return a phone call in time for this story.

Since December, Hagerstown City Police have handled one theft from a motor vehicle complaint at the YMCA and several others in various areas in the city, said Lt. Margaret Kline in an e-mail to The Herald-Mail.

Kline said on Feb. 6, a woman's purse and a bag filled with various items were taken when someone smashed the side window of her car parked at the YMCA.

Her purse was found a short time later on Northern Avenue minus her money and the bag with items she bought at CVS, Kline said.

"We had no suspects and the case is not being actively worked for that reason," Kline said.

Since the theft was reported, Hagerstown City Police have been doing special checks at the YMCA property, which will be annexed into the city on March 15.

Knight said the sheriff's department also hasn't made any arrests and has little to go on.

He said it is unknown if one person or a group is committing the thefts.

"We won't know until they get caught," Knight said.

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