UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Police are warning the community about recent car break-ins and are telling them to beware of criminal hot spots specific for this time of year.
They tend to target areas where there are a large amount of parked cars, so that means shopping malls and hockey rinks. Three cars were broken into at the last Utica Comets game and now that the holiday season is fully underway, mall parking lots are becoming a sweet spot. Especially those cars that have presents and shopping bags on the seats.
There have been 30 break-ins in Utica in the last month and many more go unreported. And it's not just Utica, many surrounding areas are being hit, especially New Hartford.
Police say first and foremost, don't leave your purses, GPS devices, iPads or anything of value in your car. If possible park under a street light to deter criminals and know the two things thieves are looking for so you can protect yourself.
"They're going to look for convenience -- the quickest vehicles they can get into -- and those are the ones that are unlocked. So if your vehicle's unlocked they're going to open it and go through," said Sgt. Steve Hauck of the Utica Police Department.
"If they come across a vehicle that's locked, then they're going to look to see if theres anything worth breaking the window over. So if they can see something obvious, like a piece of equipment or a purse, they're going to take the risk and break the window," he said.
Hauck says these thieves are drug-driven professionals that will go as far as checking to see if you have suction cup marks on your windshield from your GPS, so that's also something to look out for.
Unless police catch the criminals in action it's very difficult to find them and make an arrest, so it's absolutely crucial to protect yourself because they are out there.
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