EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- New crime analysis from the Eau Claire Police Department shows which parts of the city have had the most thefts from vehicles.
Officer Jason Kaveney said over the past three months, the majority of the 92 thefts from vehicles have taken place in the downtown area and the college student neighborhood surrounding the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
Kaveney said while the thefts from cars have fluctuated over the years, it’s something that happens all over Eau Claire.
“We do see it as a common occurrence. There are a large amount of them in our downtown area, a lot of them in our college district area,” Kaveney said.
The police officer said those areas see a spike in activity because college students and downtown visitors may be more apt to leave high-priced items in their cars.
Police said there has been three recent reports of thefts from vehicles in the neighborhood at Seymour Road and Morningside Drive on Eau Claire’s northeast side.
Robert Judson, who lives on Seymour Road, said his family car was targeted on November 29 by a thief looking to steal items from his car.
“I was getting ready to go to work and I came out and got in the car. I got ready to start it. It smelled like cigarette smoke really bad so I jumped out thinking it wasn't my car,” Judson said.
Judson said he was shocked to find garbage thrown all over his car, his glove box torn apart and cigarette burns on his seats.
“Someone would want to do this for money, the holiday is coming and maybe they want to steal for Christmas presents. I think people usually break into cars for money,” Judson said.
Kaveney said while random spikes occur throughout the city, you should always keep your guard up.
“A lot of these cases are ones of opportunity and when items are left in a vehicle of high value like a computer, cell phone, GPS unit, money, or a purse and it's in plain view, it's going to increase the likelihood that your vehicle may be broken into,” Kaveney said.
He said thieves are also after the smallest amount of money.
“If they see a cup holder with change in it, they may not know if there is only 50 cents or even $20 in change. Change is another issue that shouldn't be in plain sight,” Kaveney said.
To protect your family, police say you should hide or remove valuable items from your car, parking in well-lit areas or near a motion detector and always locking your doors.
“Anyone can be victimized and anyone should take precautions, and the more you do now, the less of a headache it's going to be in the future,” Kaveney said.
And while you’re out shopping this holiday season, police advise you to keep gifts out of site by putting them in your trunk and taking them in overnight.