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Dramatic Increase in Park City Vehicle Thefts

Some cities around the country report increases in auto theft since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Park City has also seen a spike that shows dramatic increases in vehicle  thefts.

Park City has had nine vehicle thefts since the middle of March. Police Lieutenant Darwin Little told KPCW it’s three times more than what is typically reported in an entire year.

“One of the alarming things that I have noticed is that every one of them had the keys inside the car.”

He says the investigations are still underway but most of the stolen cars have been recovered.

“I believe the majority of the cars have been recovered. One in Cache County, two in weber County and the rest, as far as I understand, the rest have been recovered down in the Murray area and we’re following leads up on that as well.”

Lieutenant Little says thieves look for electronics, purses, packages and other valuables.

“If they find anything of value especially any type of credit card or identification where they’ll o utilize them for identity theft and then run to Walmart, run somewhere and quickly  purchase gift cards. [It’s] one of the things that they'll purchase.”

Little says people are working from home more and he can see how complacency might cause Parkites to leave valuables in their cars.

“I’ve been a peace officer for 32 years in Dallas and in Morgan County and Park City. You know the smaller communities, where there are more trusting that way, people want that freedom. They want to believe that I never locked my house in my entire life, why would I start now? I live in Park City or I live in in a rural community. That's what I hear a lot. We want to feel like we are free and don't have to deal with the hassle of locking things up. We want to leave our valuables in the car cause the next morning we're going to run back out and head off to the store or whatever.”

He says car burglaries are also on an uptick with 14 occurring in Park City since mid-March. He says that’s slightly more than usual. But he says instead of the trailhead parking lots being the most common spot for break-ins, it’s now private driveways in residential areas. The Prospector neighborhood has seen the highest number of thefts in the past few months.

“The more cars are being burglarized in residential neighborhoods at night-time. They’re still getting hit at trailheads but not as much as years past. So this may be the trend of one car burglar or he prefers neighborhoods at night time versus what we've had in the past. So, I don't know if I can really equate why that's happening to the COVID situation.”

Little says by far most thefts happen when doors are left unlocked and valuables are left in sight. He says it happens at trailheads, dog parks, playgrounds, driveways and streets. He says sometimes thieves sit and watch and wait for the opportunity. The best way, he says, to not be a victim is to lock doors and leave nothing in the vehicle.


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