ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Suspects are stealing cars in broad daylight from gas stations, and it's happening at several of them.
"I come out front to go get my car as I'm all dressed up and ready to go, and there is no car," Drew Morris recalled. The Shaw resident said he religiously locks his car doors. Last Saturday, he parked and locked it outside his home, 30 minutes later, it was gone.
"I only have one set of keys and it was with me the entire time, so that was a little surprising," Morris said. "Now, I'm a little bit paranoid because I don't know how they stole it and neither did police or the dealership."
Joe Barbaglia, owner of Columbia Auto Repair in The Hill, said thieves take apart pieces of the inside of the car behind the dashboard and sometimes use advanced technology to get the car running. He said car thefts have been out of control.
"They'll take them some place and gut them and take off all the parts they need, because resale of these parts are really high in demand," Barbaglia said.
A lot of these crimes are happening in Barbaglia's neck of the woods. Since June, St. Louis police have had multiple reports of stolen vehicles and car burglaries at the following gas stations:
- 1187 S. Kingshighway Blvd (BP Gas Station)
- 6901 Hampton (BP)
- 1514 Hampton Ave (Circle K)
- 981 S. Skinker Blvd (Amoco)
- 2707 Mccausland Ave (Circle K)
- 1615 S. Kingshighway Blvd (QT)
- 3237 S. Grand Blvd (Phillips 66)
- 3291 S. Kingshighway Blvd (QT)
- 2166 Hampton Ave (QT)
- 3311 Morganford (Phillips 66)
- 1104 Hampton (BP).
Police told News 4 the recent thefts are not the work of a crime ring, however, Barbaglia believes otherwise.
St. Louis police reported 17 stolen vehicles and 11 reports of stolen items inside vehicles at five different gas station chains throughout the 2nd district since June.
"There is a ring around. Actually, I'm the president of the Second District Police Business Association, so we do get all this information. We know about the rings and we watch out for them," Barbaglia said.
Police and business owners are now warning you to take extra precautions, wherever you are.
"Lock your car, leave no valuables in there. If you have a club, put the club on it. If they see a club, they'll go to another vehicle. Most people that have clubs on their cars don't get their car stolen," Barbaglia said.
When exiting your car, be sure to remove valuables, lock up, look around and stay alert. Also, experts recommend being weary of people just cruising.