“If you told me that you could reduce one of our crime categories by 50 percent, just by doing one thing–in this case taking the keys out of the car–wouldn’t you do it?” said Green Bay Police Chief Andrew Smith.
Green Bay has had 26 cars stolen this year.
Most of them already had the keys inside and many of the thieves are not even old enough to drive.
“Last week, we caught a 12 year old driving someone’s car, and we believe this 12 year old may be responsible for as many as four or five other stolen vehicles that we’ve had,” he said.
It is the cold-weather crime of opportunity. One apparently too tough to resist for a kid playing hooky.
“If you leave your keys in the car, the only thing missing for a kid like that is a couple of phone books on the front seat so that he can drive it a little easier,” said Smith.
Just this past Monday, a pair of high school girls took a car for a joyride.
But the fun could have been stopped at the door.
“Run down to the auto supply place and get yourself a club, or a steering wheel lock,” said Smith. “Some type of a mechanism so that the kids can’t steal your car.”
The bottom line is do not leave your keys in your car.
“It’s just an invitation for someone–usually a kid–to take that car and take it for a ride,” he said.
Many of the stolen cars are used for short stops around town in order to avoid the cold.