Auto thefts are on the rise across the city, police say

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Police report uptick in auto thefts across city: Sarah Bloomquist reports on Action News at 6 p.m., October 17, 2018

Philadelphia police are reporting an uptick in auto thefts.

"As of Monday, October 15, the City of Philadelphia has recorded over 4513 stolen autos year to date. That represents an increase of six percent from this time a year ago," said Philadelphia Police Captain Jason Smith.

According to Smith, many of these thefts are entirely preventable.

"The number one reason that the stolen auto rate is up over six percent in the city from this time last year is that fact that nearly 25 percent of all vehicles stolen are suspected of having been taken as a result of the keys having been lost, stolen, or left inside of the vehicle," said Smith.

It seems car owners are leaving the keys in the car. For some, it's tough to imagine.

"Given everything you hear about car thefts, I think you know most people would just lock their cars," said Jed Abramowitz of Wayne. "It's pretty straightforward."

But police say many people keep their cars running when they run back into the house or into a store to pick something up-- and then there are the delivery drivers.

"You know what, sometimes when I don't have the appropriate parking, I do, I try to kind of like rush in real quickly. Leave my car running and rush out. And I am trying to save gas as well," said UberEats Driver Robert Smith. "Yeah. I am probably one of those victims."

The thieves are on to this habit of leaving the keys in the car and it only takes seconds for them to drive away. Police are hoping the message gets across and car owners lock it up and take the car keys with them.

Most stolen cars are eventually recovered, but a lot of them, especially the older models are quickly sold for scrap.

The problem is only expected to get worse as winter approaches, temperatures drop, and people keep the keys in the ignition to keep the car warm. Police warn if you follow this practice, it's likely your car won't be there when you return.

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