The COVID-19 pandemic didn't slow car thieves down for one moment.

The Temple Police Department reported Tuesday that they've continued to see a rise in vehicle break-ins and thefts in recent months.

When compared to the first three months of 2019, there was a 91% increase in stolen vehicles in the first three months of 2020. So far there have been 84 reported incidents this year. 44 had been reported by this time last year.

In March 2020 alone, police investigated 38 reported thefts compared to 12 in March of 2019.

According to police, a significant number of vehicles reported stolen were either unlocked or had keys in the ignition when they were stolen. In 12 cases, firearms were stolen from unlocked vehicles.

"This is a huge concern for us that could lead to more serious issues," Interim Chief Jim Tobin said Tuesday. "These weapons can fall into the wrong hands, and have the potential of being used to commit other crimes. We are asking everyone to not leave firearms unattended in your vehicles overnight."

Tobin recommends parking in well lit areas when possible, locking vehicle doors, and always removing keys and valuables.

"Do not make it easy for these criminals to take advantage of our hard-working community," he said. "We need to look out for one another, especially in these trying times."

Personally, I always close and lock my doors, even if I'm turning my back on my car for a moment or just taking something into the house. Thieves can act quickly. I also don't leave anything valuable in my car, and certainly not my firearm. That's just asking for trouble.

Use common sense and treat your car like the precious commodity it is. After all, you spent a lot of money on it. Don't make it easy for some creep to go joyriding in it and crash or sell it for parts.

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