PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Smash and grab thefts from cars are on the rise — here and throughout the country.
For the thief — it’s quick and easy — smashing a car window — taking some valuables and fleeing the scene.
At the head of the Eliza Furnace trail people park their cars and go for a bike ride or run along the river.
But this past weekend — smash and grab thieves busted into a half dozen cars leaving piles of broken glass.
On a recent Sunday Dr. Ken Katz came back from his run to his car window smashed and his cellphone gone.
Katz said it wasn’t the first time either.
“No it was actually the second time with a span of three or four months,” he said.
Smash and grab car thefts have become the crime of choice for petty thieves everywhere.
While car thefts are down, car break-ins are on the rise. There were 2,596 in Pittsburgh in 2012 — up more than 25 percent from the year before.
Thieves are looking primarily for electronics like GPS devices, iPads and smartphones. They have hit popular destinations like the South Side, where there have been 214 thefts and Shadyside where there were 162.
They also work secluded areas where people like to run and bike, like Schenley Park and the Eliza Furnace trailhead which combined for 158 thefts.
It’s become a bumper business for car window repair services.
Victims will have to shell out $170 dollars and up for new windows and replace whatever’s been stolen.
“There, the sense of violation that anyone who’s been robbed, and monetarily it’s several hundred dollars a clip,” said Katz.
The thieves broke into Katz’s car even though there was nothing of value in sight — stealing the phone from the glove compartment. But police say hiding valuables is still a good idea.
“Most of them take what’s in plain view,” Pittsburgh Police officer Randy Carlson said.
Police won’t say exactly what they’re doing to stop the thefts. But they are enlisting the public’s help to alert them whenever suspicious people seem to be casing parked cars.
“The public is the eyes and ears of the police,” Carlson said. “They need to call 911 when they see things.”
But right now the break-ins are many and the arrests are few.
Police are hopeful of turning that around.