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Vehicle thefts in Columbia up significantly since 2014

Two families on Eagle View Court in south Columbia have their cars back after they were stolen.

The first theft happened on Sept. 22, but the car was recovered a few miles down the road. The second car disappeared this past Sunday night and the victim tells me they checked the same road the first car was found, and discovered their car abandoned there as well.

“It didn’t appear to be jimmied,” said the victim, who didn’t want to be identified.

The victim said she can’t remember if the car was locked Sunday night, but if it wasn’t then that was probably a fluke.

“Even after it happened two weeks ago [we were vigilant],” she said. “It just was a total fluke if he [her husband] left it unlocked.”

But one-time flukes are where criminals can take advantage. Law enforcement said the best way to keep cars safe is to check and double check that they’re always locked. Most car break-ins and thefts happen from unlocked cars.

Residents said they’re already talking about security improvements, including a neighborhood wide effort to put in some security cameras. Many residents have their only individual cameras but they are talking about pooling money together for some that will benefit the entire subdivision.

According to the Columbia Police Department’s monthly and annual crime reports, from January to July this year there have been 168 vehicle thefts. In 2017, there were 266 total.

The number of car thefts in Columbia had remained steady since 1985, staying mostly under 200 total. But between 2014 and 2015, the total spike nearly 35 percent and has been increasing ever since.

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