BOTKINS — Vehicle owners are being advised by police to lock their doors after numerous cars were reported entered during early morning hours in Botkins and four other area villages over the course of the week.
Other than Botkins, each early morning from Monday, Dec. 7, through Thursday, Dec. 10, unlocked vehicles were also entered in the villages of Anna, Fort Loramie, New Bremen and Minster.
“It’s that time of the year, and so we encourage people to lock their vehicles,” Botkins Police Chief Tom Glass said, referring to the holiday season.
Between midnight and 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Glass said Botkins Police received reports at least 15 cars were entered. No major loss was reported.
Mostly loose change was taken out of six unlocked vehicles in New Bremen, but thieves also took a purse, containing $25 in cash and credit cards, out of one vehicle, and a rifle out of another unlocked car early Monday morning. The purse and credit cards were later found in a nearby alley.
“We ask all residents to make sure they lock their car doors throughout the night, and if they see anything suspicious to get us involved. That is what we are hear for; call us immediately,” said New Bremen Police Chief Michael Skinner. “We need to get involved immediately. That is an actual 911 phone call that they should be making, not just calling the local police department and leaving a message, because a lot of us are not staffed and have someone here waiting on that phone call.”
Glass said the belief is that the thief is the same person(s) and are from out of town, as many area communities were hit in the same night.
“We have no clue (who the thieves are). It’s not local people, I will say that because they have been everywhere,” Glass said. “It’s that time of year and that’s what happens this time of the year. We are just encouraging everybody to lock their cars at all times. And if they hear something or see something to give us a call right away.”
Minster Police Chief David Friend said petty thefts from vehicles began in Wapakoneta and then were being reported in area villages. He noted these thieves only steal out of unlocked vehicles, unless they would maybe see something of significant value they were interested in because they can be in and out of the car in seconds.
Botkins and Anna Police Departments posted warnings about thieves entering unlocked vehicles on their Facebook pages Wednesday.
“… Thankfully no one experienced a major loss. Anna Police Department will be out on foot patrol periodically throughout the week checking the residential areas of the village. Please be sure to lock your vehicles, remove any valuables and park them in a lighted driveway or under a street light if available,” Anna Police Chief Darrin Goudy said in part in his Facebook post.
Goudy’s post further warned Anna residents about having items delivered. If no one is able to be home at the time, for a period of time after the delivery, or have a neighbor help out, he offered to help when possible by picking up items left at doors in his village and bringing them to the police department for safe keeping.
“Thankfully” Anna Police has not received reports of packages being stolen after delivery, but Goudy said he is trying to be “proactive” and help out if possible.
Other than believing the thief, or one of the thieves, is a male, Friend said they do not have any other identifying information or leads. Friend said a thief seen wearings similar clothing and mannerisms was captured on a few Ring doorbell video cameras, but nothing is clear enough to see the person’s face or to provide a good picture.
Fort Loramie only received one report of tools stolen out of a car, but Chief Nathan Brown said thieves first hit a few weeks ago and his department received numerous theft reports at that time.
Friend said between the two different theft events in November and December, Minster has received over 30 reports of unlocked vehicles entered.
“A lot of people don’t report it when only change is stolen,” Friend said. “But no matter how small, please report it, because otherwise it makes it hard for us to track their path. Also take away their opportunity to do it and lock vehicles at night. To be safe, hit the remote lock feature on the key.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.