AUSTIN, Ark. — A rash of vehicles being broken into in the past few days has the Austin Police Department warning its community.
The Austin Police Department sent out a warning on Facebook this past week, reminding people in their town to lock their car doors at night after they got five calls in a span of two days about cars being broken into.
It's a crime that Austin Police Department patrolman Rob Ruble said rarely ever happens in their town of 2,000.
"I can't remember a time that we have had this many within that short amount of time," he said.
Ruble said it's normally a quiet town in Lonoke County, but it has recently become a high profile area for car break-ins.
"They're not busting windows. They're not doing anything like that. As of now, they're just checking door handles and if your cars unlocked, they're taking your stuff," he said.
With five car break-ins in the span of 48 hours, the Austin Police Department has increased its patrol presence with the help of surrounding jurisdictions.
"We're in the neighborhoods, staying in the neighborhoods, driving around, and if you don't look like you're supposed to be there, you get to talk to us," he said.
Ruble said the break-ins took place all over the city and hit four of the five subdivisions that make up Austin.
"I mean, we're five square miles, give or take," he said.
Ruble said what has been taken from the cars have varied between things we normally keep inside our own cars, like loose change and rain gear to laptops and military gear, but there has been one common theme.
"They're all unlocked," he said.
Ruble said every theft, which has taken place between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., has been completed with a jiggle of the door handle.
"When they find one that's unlocked, well now you're their next victim," he said.
Ruble said part of the reason he believes people are forgetting to press the lock button on their car keys is complacency.
"Life happens. Do I feel like they say, 'I don't need to worry about locking my car?' I don't think that's quite it. I think it's just that life happens and they forget," he said.
At the end of the day, Ruble said this is a good reminder for the community and that's why the police department is asking everyone if they see any suspicious activity, day or night, to call them immediately.
"If you see something that doesn't look right, call us. That's what we're here for. You're not going to waste our time," he said.
Ruble wants to remind people to lock their cars, take their valuables out, leave their porch lights on, and get to know your neighbors.
The Austin Police Department does have a person of interest for these thefts, thanks to footage from home security cameras, but all the cases are still under investigation.