At the beginning of 2021, an uptick in auto break-ins and thefts in the region prompted the St. Charles County police chiefs to form a task force to combat this problem. St. Charles County Police Chief Kurt Frisz and Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar both were involved in getting this task force started. They are now working with St. Louis County police departments to further address this issue.
By mid-April, police across the county had made more than 100 arrests, seized weapons, and recovered stolen cars. Prosecuting Attorney Lohmar committed that anyone caught stealing or breaking into a vehicle in St. Charles County will face charges from his office that will require mandatory jail time, and he will seek higher bonds in those cases.
More recently, a task force operation over a two-day period resulted in 39 arrests for not only auto thefts but unlawful weapons use, narcotics, and other felony and misdemeanor warrants. The task force is getting the “bad guys” off the streets.
The County has been diligent about spreading the news about these break-ins because, Chief Frisz tells me, it takes more than the police and prosecutor to deter these crimes. It takes awareness from the public.
The Chief tells me that surveillance shows gangs of individuals meeting and then being assigned in groups to target specific neighborhoods. While motor vehicle thefts and thefts from vehicles are down this year from 2020, police are arresting multiple individuals in each incident. And often, they are armed. Additionally, catalytic converter thefts have increased.
This is a very serious issue, and I want to reiterate what police have advised residents:
- Remain alert, especially during the holidays.
- Take safety precautions.
- Always keep your car locked.
- Don’t leave valuables in your car.
- Don’t leave keys or fobs in your car.
- If you have a garage, park your vehicle in it.
- Keep your garage door closed and your doors locked.
- When you can, park with the back of your car against a building or something that prohibits thieves from accessing your catalytic converter.
- If you see someone breaking into a car, don’t confront them.
- If you’re home and someone is breaking into your car, turning lights on may deter them.
- Always call 911.
Please, take this advice seriously. Let’s all stay safe so we can have a wonderful holiday season!