“I’m not sure the public really truly understands the prevalence and how bad it is,” Springfield Police Cpl. Matt Brown said. The number one tip to protect property seems simple -- take your valuables out of your vehicle. “Everybody is guilty of it. Everybody does it at some point, you go into a convenience store or grocery store and it's really easy to leave your items there for a couple seconds,” Brown said. “Everybody that's a victim that we talked to say they completely regret it.”
In 2010, even the mayor of Springfield quickly had regret when thieves swiped his passport, credit cards and iPod. "You know I feel pretty silly about it,” O’Neal told KSPR news. “Your first response is you’re angry at yourself and then you’re just angry." He says he normally locks his vehicle but the time he didn’t he became a victim.
“The bad guys see it. They go up and down the roads looking for it,” Brown said. “It’s a 5 second smash and grab.” The crime of opportunity is hard to proactively patrol. “The likelihood of catching someone in the crime, in the moment is so rare,” Brown said. Police want citizens to protect themselves by taking the few seconds to clear out the car and lock it.
Springfield police officers recently arrested a gang of thieves based out of Florida. With the “felony lane gang” arrests, police expected car break-in numbers to drop but instead they have increased.