Vehicle thefts leave victims struggling to recover

Sgt. Roy Hoskins works in crime prevention for the St. Joseph Police Department and shares tips for avoiding car theft and having things taken from vehicles.

Car thefts and vehicle break-ins aren’t uncommon problems facing people in St. Joseph.

According to a National Insurance Crime Bureau report, St. Joseph was the No. 9 ranked hotspot for vehicle theft in the country in 2020. The statistic is based on population percentages, and the state of Missouri as a whole saw a large increase in vehicle theft.

Sgt. Roy Hoskins, who works in crime prevention for the St. Joseph Police Department, said advances in technology can both help and hurt in such crimes.

“Keyless entry, which almost all new cars are coming with now, actually makes theft a bit simpler in certain ways because the radio frequency can be stolen from those,” Hoskins said. “On the flip side, the more difficult cars to steal are electric cars like Teslas, and it has something to do with the way they function with the electrical system and such. It is much more secure than a standard gas engine car.”

One couple spent Monday morning in the St. Joseph Police Department lobby adding documents to a theft report for a loss they experienced Sunday.

Mark Mallon and his wife parked their car in the east parking lot of Corby Pond, went for a walk and came back to find their car window smashed and their belongings gone. This is something Mallon heard happened to people in town, but he never thought he’d be dealing with it.

“We’re having to go through and do all of the IDs and all the credit cards and all of the documentation and call all the accounts and everything. It is really kind of a tough deal. It’s kind of a pain,” he said. “I’ve been driving around all morning, do I have enough money ... cash money to go to McDonald’s? And so everything goes on the credit card. So it’s just this frustration, plus we got to get the car fixed. You know, the window can run as high as $600 for a factory window for the car.”

Mallon said he and his wife walked for about 10 minutes Sunday morning before hearing four loud bangs. He said he thought they were gunshots but didn’t hear sirens so thought nothing of it. But that sound turned out to be a baseball bat hitting his car window, which they found when they returned 35 minutes later.

“I never would have thought to turn around and go back to go towards that noise,” he said. “I don’t think I’m going to go back and see if I think somebody’s shooting the gun. I’m not gonna go that way. But I sure wish I’d turned around and trotted back to my car now to see what was going on.”

Hoskins said the best thing people can do is lock their car and make sure there is nothing of value inside. But, if something does happen, he said the process of filing a police report can be made easier by keeping records.

“Our credit card numbers, of course, your driver’s license number, things like that, make sure you have the access to the number to call in or report your card stolen. Or, in a lot of cases, you can do it on an app or online,” he said.

If you do experience theft, you can make an online report with the St. Joseph Police Department at stjoemo.info/FormCenter/Police-11/Crime-Report-52.

Morgan Riddell can be reached at morgan.riddell@newspressnow.com

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