Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart are once again reminding residents to lock vehicles and not leave key fobs inside vehicles as the number of stolen vehicles has increased this year.

In the Seventh Precinct alone, reports of stolen vehicles were up 61.9% to 97 as of Dec. 19, compared to 60 during the same period last year, police records show. 

Overall, Suffolk County police responded to 1,125 reports of stolen vehicles so far in 2020, up from 736 in the same timeframe for 2019, a 52.9% increase.

“With the increase in the number of reports of stolen vehicles this year, it is important for our residents to make sure that their vehicles are locked and secure when left unattended,” Bellone said.

The key fob problem

Many victims of vehicle thefts have not only left cars unlocked, but also left key fobs in plain view, allowing car thieves to easily enter the vehicle and with the press of a button, start the engine and drive away. 

During the winter months, people frequently leave their vehicles running outside their homes or a business where they make a quick stop. If you must leave your car running outside your residence, make sure it is locked and the key fob is not in the vehicle.

At the December meeting of the Pattersquash Creek Civic Association, COPE Police Officer Jim Anson told attendees that victims of theft with keyless entry systems occasionally leave their keys in the vehicle and run into the store, leaving the vehicles “very susceptible to be leaving without you.”

Residents are reminded to call 911 to report suspicious activity.