'Lock it or lose it': Police on Long Island report uptick in car thefts, break-ins

MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- Police on Long Island are reporting an uptick in car break-ins and thefts this year and urging residents to take common sense precautions.

Nassau County police say there has been an 18% increase in incidents -- and that 97% of them could have been avoided if the key fob had not been left in the vehicle.

"For some reason, either on purpose or inadvertently, people are leaving their fobs in the car," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. "And what happens is these individuals go in the car, they try to start it up, they leave, and now you have lost your car. So either you lock it or you're going to lose it."

Authorities played several surveillance videos at a press conference showing suspects checking door locks and rifling through vehicles.

They say the incidents usually happen at night and usually happen with higher-end vehicles.

Ryder said in the best case-scenario, the thief steals whatever change is in the vehicle. But in the potential worst-case scenario, they may be able to use a garage door opener to gain access to a home.

"Honestly, I think it's silly," area resident Timmy Medhelia said. "It doesn't take much to just take it, put it in your pocket, and take it inside."

Ryder said that several arrests have been made in connection with a number of thefts, but he is urging residents to take steps to avoid being easy targets -- including locking cars, making sure they are parked in well-lit areas, and parking inside the garage if possible.

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