WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Brazen car burglars are hitting all across Westchester County, stealing money, cellphones and even laptops from vehicles parked in neighborhood driveways.
Police say unsuspecting victims are making it all too easy for the crooks to score.
“This is Westchester. This is different than the city. People up here, I guess they think it’s not going to happen to them, it’s not going to happen at all,” White Plains resident Robert Fullenweider said.
Fullenweider had a front row seat to an epidemic plaguing Westchester County, where people feel a false sense of security, CBS2’s Jessica Moore reported.
“He was just checking all the cars, checking all the car doors to see if they were open,” he said.
“They’re rascals, but they’re groups of rascals – 5, 6, 7 of them. They’re like a swarm,” Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino Jr. said.
Surveillance videos show what investigators say is happening at an alarming rate. From New Castle to Bronxville, car thieves are literately looking for an open door.
“The fact of the matter is it’s clearly just a crime of opportunity for them. If those doors were locked, they were going to just move on to find another location,” Scarpino told Moore.
Video from outside a home in New Castle shows thieves rummaging through a woman’s purse, taking cash and a cellphone, but sometimes they go for more. Investigators say if the victims happen to leave their keys in the car, the thieves take that too, often driving to another location where they ditch the first stolen car and take off in a new one.
“Then they travel down to lower Westchester or the Bronx and will either leave the vehicle or they have been known to sort of rent them out to other individuals. So it’s interesting, and I tell you they’re pretty resourceful with what they do with these vehicles,” Scarpino said.
But police say car owners can be more resourceful. The simple push of a lock button will likely send the thieves running in the opposite direction, Moore reported.
CBS2 is told some people think it’s better to leave a car unlocked than to have a thief break a window and get inside. Police say that advice only applies if you don’t leave anything valuable inside your car.