Thieves targeting idling cars

Cars left idling in driveways are being targeted by car thieves in South Bend.

There have been about a dozen theft cases involving cars left unattended with the key in the ignition, as the owner heads back in the house.

The latest incidents happened over the weekend – three more cars were stolen.

“If you place property out there and advertise that you’re willing to give it away – it’s going to be taken,” said Capt. Phil Trent, from the South Bend Police Department.

One car was taken from the 1300 block of Fremont Street just before 1 p.m. Sunday. The victims tell Newscenter 16 that they left the car unsupervised for just a few minutes. The car was gone when the owner looked out the window.

Then, a similar scenario played out in the 1500 block of E. Donald Street around 10:30 p.m.

“Some of the people [stealing cars] are doing it repetitiously,” Trent said. “People are doing this for transportation.”

“It makes me think twice about leaving my key in the ignition,” Blair Fulnecky said.

It’s a common practice despite the risk.

Just a couple blocks away from the most recent theft, WNDU spotted a car idling for more than ten minutes.

But, the car owner said she was not worried because her dogs were in the car and that her pets would fend off any potential thieves.

Several of the stolen cars have been retrieved a few days later but not in the condition the owners last saw them in.

“We had a car stolen from Elkhart in a very similar situation,” Trent said. “It was brought here to South Bend a couple weeks ago. A shooting happened inside. The person got car back covered in blood and a bullet hole.”

So, police are warning residents in hopes of preventing more cases from popping up.

“Don’t do this in any sector of South Bend, any sector of the county,” Trent said. “It’s something that is just rampant.”

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