There was a significant increase in vehicles stolen within municipalities last year compared to the previous year.
In 2018 there were 438 vehicles stolen from within Franklin County, compared to 368 vehicles stolen in 2017. The 19 percent increase includes vehicles and watercraft stolen from within city limits and unincorporated areas.
The discrepancy is greater when excluding vehicles stolen in unincorporated Franklin County. Within the municipalities alone, there was a 41 percent increase.
In 2018 there were 168 vehicles stolen in municipalities compared to 113 the previous year.
Sheriff Steve Pelton told The Missourian that 270 vehicles were stolen in 2018 from unincorporated Franklin County compared to 255 in 2017.
He pointed out that in some cases the cars were repossessed, but are considered stolen in yearly statistics because of the initial report taken by deputies.
Pelton added the sharper increase in municipalities is due to denser populations in those cities.
In Washington the number of stolen vehicles last year, 40, doubled. Police Detective. Sgt. Steve Sitzes said in many cases keys were left in the cars.
“Most of those people left their keys in the car,” he said. “There also were some reported stolen but they actually were given to someone who didn’t return it.”
In the latter, referred to as “dope rentals,” one person uses a car to drive into St. Louis for drugs, oftentimes heroin, and doesn’t return the car immediately, or at all.
Of the 40 stolen last year, 32 were recovered.
In comparison, there were 113 vehicles stolen in 2012 compared to 14 in 2011.
The number of stolen vehicle reports in St. Clair increased to 31 in 2018 from 20 in 2017, according to Police Chief Bill Hammack.
“Most of our theft reports that we take, are thefts from unlocked vehicles and shoplifting cases,” he said. “Most of our stolen vehicles were unlocked with the keys in them.
“Criminals look for easy opportunities. If people would lock their cars and didn’t leave valuables in them, it might knock some of those numbers down a little bit.”
Union Chief Norman Brune said there was an average of one car stolen per week in 2018.
Last year there were 52 vehicles stolen compared to 31 in 2017. In 2010, that number was as low as nine.
Additionally, Brune said, 12 vehicles stolen from other jurisdictions were located in Union.
Sullivan police took 25 stolen vehicle reports in 2017 and 30 in 2018.
There was a slight increase of stolen vehicles in Pacific last year when there were 13. There were 10 in 2017.
In Gerald and New Haven there were decreases.
In New Haven there was one vehicle stolen last year, according to Capt. Jacki Brown. That is down from two in 2017.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) website, there was one vehicle stolen in Gerald in 2018 and three stolen in 2017.