CITY OF BROOKFIELD - After being plagued by a spree of vehicle thefts earlier this year, city of Brookfield police say that residents need to continue taking proper precautions.
During an approximately monthlong period in April and early May, at least seven vehicles were reported stolen in the city of Brookfield.
The thefts had a pattern of occurring overnight, usually between midnight and 5:30 a.m.
In the wake of that crime spree, police issued a warning to residents to take proper precautions to protect their property, including making sure their vehicles were locked. A number of the thefts were of vehicles both left unlocked and with the keys inside.
The spree of vehicle thefts has slowed in recent weeks, but police say residents must remain vigilant.
"At this point, we have no current outstanding vehicles that we are seeking," Brookfield Police Capt. Thomas Vento said.
The latest thefts included a pickup truck stolen June 24 and a Mitsubishi taken June 26.
"Both of those vehicles were recovered as a result of vehicle crashes in the city of Milwaukee," Vento said.
Vento noted that the earlier pattern in the spring was an anomaly.
"We had roughly five in a two-week period where we normally may only have five in a whole year," Vento said. "Oftentimes a decrease in crime can be attributed to one particular agency taking people off the streets that need to be. It's sometimes unexplained, but it generally leads back to some agency making a good arrest."
Even though the thefts of vehicles seemed to have subsided, at least for now, residents should avoid becoming complacent.
"365 days a year, there's no reason to leave your car unlocked in the driveway or with the keys in it," Vento said. "It's a deterrent and an effective one because most of these thieves do not want to make the noise of smashing glass. They want an easy, quick yield."
In addition to the theft of vehicles themselves, police face a consistent issue with criminals also stealing property from inside vehicles. Many of those crimes stem from people leaving their vehicles unlocked as well, but forced entry is also used sometimes if people leave valuables in sight. As such, police advise residents to avoid leaving items such as shopping bags, purses, wallets, phones and electronics in vehicles, even if locked.
"I grew up here. My family has been in this area since the late '60s and there was probably a time when you didn't have to worry about those things," Vento said. "Unfortunately times have changed and crime has changed and crimes of opportunity have changed."