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Richmond car thefts on the rise as temperatures drop outside

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RICHMOND, Va. -- More than a dozen cars have been stolen from Richmond's Third Police Precinct in that last 15 days, according to Richmond Police.

The Third Police Precinct straddles the James River and consists of neighborhoods like Carytown, the Museum District, the Fan, Forest Hill, Randolph, Stratford Hills, and Woodland Heights.

"While we don’t believe they are all related, a key was left inside the vehicle or the vehicle was left running in each case," Third Precinct Richmond Detective Matthew Sacksteder said.

Richmond police say they've seen the spike in auto thefts since winter set in on Richmond.

In one theft, a driver parked at a Fas Mart on Semmes Avenue and ran inside while his car was running.

"While he was in the store, [someone] got into the driver’s side of the car and drove away," a Richmond Police spokesman said. "Detectives have strong leads in the case, but are asking the public to call police if they have any information on this incident."

The Fas Mart theft was reported December 11, at about 10:35 p.m.

Numbers show the Fan, Westover Hills and Church Hill seem to be problem areas.

"We've had 14 since December 6, until yesterday in the third precinct alone. The ones that we've had, similar to this, have been very fast,” said Sacksteder.

Police say that’s why taking common sense measures to prevent crimes of opportunity are so important.

"Detectives remind citizens that taking a few small precautions can help secure a vehicle and prevent crimes of opportunity such as motor vehicle theft or theft from motor vehicles," the Richmond Police spokesman continued. "Lock car doors. Regardless of where it’s parked, lock up and keep valuables out of sight. Never leave keys inside the car. It makes the vehicle an easy target. Don’t leave a running vehicle unattended, even for a few minutes."

Anyone with information about this crime was asked to call Third Precinct Detective Matthew Sacksteder at 804-646-1068 or Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000.

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