Car prowlers have once again victimized several West Linn residents, many of whom kept valuable belongings, including garage door openers, in their cars overnight.
Several of the robbed cars were unlocked. Prowlers hit at least eight cars in two nights, two of which occurred the night of Dec. 20 and six that occurred two nights later.
Victims reported checkbooks, holiday gifts, tools, cell phones and more as stolen. Three victims also reported that their garage door openers had been taken out of their cars, and their garages left open after thieves rifled through the belongings in the garage.
"We can't get the message out enough: Take the things out of your cars. Lock your cars. If you leave your car unlocked, don't leave your garage opener in there," said West Linn Police Public Information Officer Jeff Halverson.
Thieves hit cars on Fairhaven Drive and Skyline Circle in Barrington Heights and Bolton neighborhoods Dec. 20 and cars on Maxfield Drive, Winkel Way, Stonehaven Drive, Summit Street and two on Apollo Road Dec. 22.
The cars hit on Maxfield Drive and Winkel Way were within 500 feet of each other. And the two on Apollo Road and one on Summit Street were within half a mile of one another.
According to police records a second vehicle belonging to the victims on Winkel Way was robbed Dec. 28.
Car burglaries seem to come in waves in West Linn. The city saw a large string of thefts from vehicles at the end of October when thieves hit 26 cars in 11 days.
The thefts seem to die down for a while before picking up again last week.
"When we get these waves (of car prowls), I think it's a group that will come through and they'll do it for a night or two and then they'll move onto the next city and unfortunately when they move on, another group's moving through," Halverson said.
By comparison, Wilsonville typically sees a small handful of car clouts each week.
Halverson said that officers on night duty are always patrolling neighborhoods to make their presence known in an effort to deter this sort of criminal activity, but with only so many officers on duty, they can't be everywhere at once.
He added that it helps for people to have outside lighting on at night and to call the police if they see anyone creeping around at night.
According to Halverson, when these types of thefts occur, they can often make use of people's home security cameras to identify suspects.
In early October, police used a resident's home security footage to catch a man who had burglarized multiple cars in West Linn.
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