Austintown unlocked cars hit by thieves - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Austintown unlocked cars hit by thieves

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AUSTINTOWN, Ohio - An admitted thief tells police how he makes easy money, thanks to people who leave their cars outside and unlocked overnight.

Take a drive on a typical residential street and you may be surprised at how many vehicles are parked outside.

And according to a recent case in Austintown, about one in every five will be left unlocked overnight.

Police say it's an open invitation for someone like Richard Backer, who would walk the streets after everyone was asleep.

"He basically set out at night, usually after midnight. He'd walk through the neighborhood and seek out cars that were unlocked, basically walk the entire length of the street," said Austintown Detective Shawn Hevener.

The detective says the thieves are looking for money or anything they can turn into cash.

"Electronics, GPS, iPads, things of that nature. Currency, change or paper money, and gift cards," Hevener said.

According to police, Backer operated over a period of several months.

"He bragged about trying over a thousand cars, getting into over 200. They're not really busting windows, it makes too much noise," said Hevener.

Window smashing usually happens in cases where items are left in plain sight inside the car. "You're basically putting a target or your car," Hevener said.

Your best defense is always to lock your vehicle, park under a light if possible and don't leave anything of value in view.

Backer is currently servicing a six month jail sentence on theft from auto charges.

Austintown police have also issued an arrest warrant for Zachery Rovder who is presently being held in Trumbull County on other charges.

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