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Bad habits lead to an increase in area car thefts

Police explain why more people are stealing cars

ROANOKE, Va. – 10 News Crime Tracker report: Recent statistics show car thefts are up statewide in Virginia, even though other property theft is down. On average, someone steals a car almost every other day in Roanoke.

Police say there have been 170 cases in the last year.

Roanoke police announced a car theft arrest last week. They say that they’re seeing more cases where thieves are stealing cars with the keys inside.

"They're going along, people are leaving their vehicles unlocked, so they're lifting door handles," Roanoke City Police Department Detective Dale Brink said.

They say the easiest way to help thieves is to leave your car running.

"Just don't do it," Brink said. "I know it's hot out in the summertime. It's like, 'I'll only be in there for a minute. I can come back out and my car is still cooled down.'”

Police say people can go inside a car looking for valuables and then find a spare key, allowing them to steal the vehicle.

Brink says most thieves recently just wanted to go for a joyride.

If someone steals your car, odds are you’ll get it back. Most vehicles end up abandoned and police find the vast majority of them. Because of tracking technology, police say it’s hard for thieves to sell them.