OZARK, Mo. -- With colder temperatures on the way, that typically means an increase in the number of stolen cars.
Theft typically goes even higher during our cold mornings, due to people warming up their vehicles and leaving them unattended. So far this year in Springfield, 1,021 cars have been stolen, and even in Ozark, officers have seen about a 50 percent increase in car thefts compared to this time last year. They are mostly crimes of opportunity, as folks get too comfortable, and leave their cars unlocked and unattended.
One Springfield resident had her car stolen three days ago from her gym on West Republic Road. Dawn Fitzgerlad thought she had done everything right.
She hid her belongings, locked her car, and took in her keys.
"They have a woman on video. She knew my car, she knew when I left, because she took it like 10 minutes before I left the gym," Fitzgerald explained.
Unfortunately, where Dawn Fitzgerald erred is she didn't lock up her gym bag once inside the locker room, which had her car keys inside.
"She knew my schedule. She knew that she had time to go get someone, come back to the gym, and get in my car and leave."
Fitzgerlad is just sick that her custom-made prized possession is gone, a nice 2013 Camaro.
Planet Fitness turned over surveillance video to Springfield police, but so far, no arrests, and no car.
Head south to Ozark, and police there are investigating stolen car video, too.
A Jeep Grand Cherokee was swiped a few nights ago out of a garage that had accidentally been left open.
"We've got that small town feel, that small community feel, people think no crime happens here and a lot of these times it's targets of opportunity," said Corporal Truman Isbell. "What it is-- is people just drive around, you'll have suspects driving around or just people that may be walking by a vehicle that may not normally steal a vehicle but they see the window down, they see the keys inside the vehicle, and that's an opportunity for them to go into that vehicle and take it."
Beware, thieves are always waiting to capitalize on our mistakes.
When warming up that car-- you're advised to only do that if you can leave it locked while warming. Otherwise, police say it's best not to warm it up at all.