After rash of auto burglaries in Prairie Village, police urge residents to lock car doors

As auto burglaries increase in some northeast Johnson County cities police departments have tips for residents to keep their cars and belongings safe.

The Prairie Village Police Department said Monday it had responded to more than 10 auto burglaries over night.

“The common factor in all these cases….the vehicles were left unlocked! Don’t make yourself an easy target,” the department said in a tweet.

Deputy chief Byron Roberson said Prairie Village has seen an increase in burglaries over the holiday season and that many of the crimes happen because of opportunity, like an unlocked car door or open garage door.

“PVPD has actively engaged several would be burglars during the overnight hours,” Roberson said. “Unfortunately many of these burglars escape due to their total disregard for the safety of other motorist on the road while attempting to escape capture by our officers.”

Increased burglaries, theft in holiday season follows 2020 trend

The uptick in auto burglaries and theft appears to be a trend across northeast Johnson County in 2020. As of September Lenexa’s stolen car report had more than doubled, while Merriam had experienced an 83% increase. Leawood reported seeing auto theft at more than six times the rate of 2019.

John Lacy, Overland Park police officer and public information officer, said Overland Park has experienced more auto burglaries than usual in 2020. Lacy said the department arrested three auto burglars just last weekend, all of which were juveniles.

Lacy has three main tips for residents wanting to keep their cars safe, the first being to lock your car doors.

“Over 83% of our autoburglaries in Overland Park are from unsecured vehicles,” he said.

Keeping valuables, like computer cases and purses, out of plain view is also important. And Lacy’s third piece of advice is to park in well lit areas.

Police remind residents to contact dispatch — not social media pages if they see suspicious activity

If residents see any suspicious activity they are encouraged to call dispatch — not reach out to the department’s social media pages, Lacy said.

“Last year a resident contacted our social media (Facebook Messenger) that he had seen someone look inside his neighbor’s car,” Lacy said. “That following morning we had several auto burglaries in that same neighborhood.”

The Merriam Police Department was looking for a car thief suspect on Christmas Day. Police captain Troy Duvanel said the case is still under investigation and that no arrests have been made at this time.

Troy Duvanel, captain of the Merriam Police Department, said the city usually sees an uptick in both auto and residential burglaries over the holidays. In addition to locking up and parking in the driveway Duvanel said he can’t stress enough how important it is to remove any firearms you may have in your vehicle.

“As you know, you can carry a concealed handgun in your vehicle in Kansas without a permit,” Duvanel said. “People get lax and don’t always bring them in and sometimes even leave their vehicle unlocked.”