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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Police: Thefts from unlocked cars spike

NASHUA – Police are warning residents to lock their car doors after a third month of increased motor vehicle break-ins.

Seventy-one mostly unlocked cars were rifled through and stolen from in November. That’s up from 46 break-ins in October and 37 in September, according to Dawn Reeby, Nashua Police Department’s crime analyst.

Close to half, 29, of the November thefts occurred in the area between West Hollis Street and East Dunstable Road and Main Street and Lund Road, according to a crime trend report police issued this month.

“We certainly see it as a trend, something that’s happening specifically in the last couple of months,” Reeby said. “This is definitely more.”

Almost 70 percent of the vehicles targeted through Nov. 20, when the report was issued, were unlocked, and more than 60 percent were parked in the owners’ driveways.

The most common things taken have been GPS units, taken in 25 percent of the thefts through Nov. 20, along with other electronics, purses, wallets, cash and laptop computers, according to the report.

Reeby issued a similar trend report in June when more than 40 GPS units were taken in the city, mostly from unlocked vehicles. The navigation devices don’t seem to be the target of this spate of break-ins, she said, although they have been taken, too.

“That doesn’t seem to be the main idea of why they’re breaking into the vehicles,” she said.

Other items being taken include radar detectors, iPods, purses, cash and change, cell phones, DVDs and tools, Reeby said.

“All that stuff, just take it out of the car,” she said.

Reeby said thieves have smashed several windows to get into vehicles, usually when something worth taking is in plain sight. Mostly, the thieves are walking through neighborhoods testing door handles until they find one that is unlocked, she said.

“The big thing is the unlocked,” Reeby said. “We definitely have seen and continue to see vehicles, mostly unlocked and parked in driveways and parking lots, being hit for items that are seen right out in the open.”

Nashua police Detective Lt. George McCarthy said the department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit is investigating the break-ins. The detectives bureau is coordinating with Reeby and POP officers in case the charges turn into felonies once the suspect or suspects are caught, he said.

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or