WESTCHESTER COUNTY (WABC) -- Westchester County residents are being warned to lock their cars and take their key fobs with them after a dramatic rise in vehicle thefts.
District Attorney Anthony Scarpino held a press conference Thursday with Scarsdale Police Captain Ed Murphy and Investigations Division Deputy District Attorney Steven Vandervelden who supervises the Auto Theft Unit.
They say that residents leaving their cars unlocked or with the fobs inside are helping criminals commit crimes. Scarsdale has been particularly hard hit with a 2,000% increase in the crime.
According to Scarpino, every municipality in the county has reported at least one theft and other incidents.
Statistics compiled by the District Attorney's Office Westchester Intelligence Center from local law enforcement show a year-over-year increase of 60% through the end of August.
"While we do know of groups of professional thieves from New Jersey stealing luxury vehicles and exporting them for the overseas black market, a majority of thefts in the suburbs are carried out mostly by teens and young people from Connecticut's urban areas who are coming into Westchester, stealing cars which are left unlocked and with a fob/key left in the car," Scarpino said. "The theft is bad enough, but these vehicles are being used to commit other crimes and endangering the lives of others. Some have been involved in police pursuits resulting in accidents. If you leave your car unlocked, you are helping criminals and putting others in danger."
In addition to the vehicle thefts, police are also seeing a rise in vehicle "grab-and-go" thefts, where thieves help themselves to valuables left in the car.
"We reminded residents earlier in the summer and we are doing it again. The numbers are staggering. As auto thefts and grab-and-go crimes continue to plague the county along with the pandemic, I urge residents to be careful to lock their vehicles. These are crimes of opportunity," Scarpino said.
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2,000% increase in vehicle thefts in Scarsdale, 60% in Westchester County
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