ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — From Grand Island to Lancaster, Clarence to East Aurora, police say car thefts are on the rise throughout Erie County.
"Last year we had 42 car thefts in the district the Erie County Sheriff’s office covers. Last year total we had 56, so it’s a tremendous uptick," Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said.
New York State Police said they've been seeing more car break-ins.
"A lot of cars are being broke into and gone through. Obviously, if they keys are in there they’re being stolen," New York State Trooper James O'Callaghan, the public information officer for Troop A, said.
Police said these thieves are walking around neighborhoods checking for unlocked cars. Once they find one, they rummage around for valuables, sometimes finding car keys.
"If they hit the jackpot, and the car fob is there, and they’re able to steal the car, well you know, [it's] better for them," Sheriff Garcia said.
In just the past few weeks, six vehicles were stolen in East Aurora.
"I’ve been here over 30 years. We’ve never had a rash here like this in my career here," East Aurora Police Chief Shane Krieger said.
The Erie County Sheriff's Office said 11 cars were stolen in Clarence, and 11 were stolen in Grand Island. Lancaster Police said they arrested two individuals for stealing items from cars.
Police said these thefts are occurring in the middle of the night and right in broad daylight.
"And the trends that we’re seeing, it’s a lot of our juveniles. It’s always been a crime of someone of the younger age," Trooper O'Callaghan said.
Police said they're all working together to crack down on these issues.
"Most of the cars stolen are being recovered. Majority of the cars recovered are being recovered in the city of Buffalo," Sheriff Garcia said.
"But if there’s any valuables in the car, they’re long gone generally," Chief Krieger said.
Law enforcement said you can protect yourself by removing valuables from your car and locking your vehicle.