Christmas weekend car theft crime spree

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Several Christmas grinches hit Amarillo hard this holiday weekend with a car theft crime spree, leaving police searching for suspects and several stolen cars.

It can happen to anyone, anywhere, at anytime, your car gets stolen right from under your nose.

While you can't do much about a thief who can hot wire, you can avoid practically handing them your keys.

While you were busy opening presents this weekend, thieves were busy scoping out your car.

In just a matter of three days, 11 vehicles were stolen in Amarillo, 8 of them had the keys inside and 5 of them were running.

Cpl. Jerry Neufeld with the Amarillo Police Department says, "It's the crime of opportunity for that person who's just walking down the street and it's cold, looks over and there's a car running. He can see the exhaust and says hey, this is going to be easy."

It can happen in just a matter of seconds.

Watching your car through your front door or your window isn't going to stop a thief. That's why police say you need to stay with your car at all times while it's warming up, even if that  means grabbing a blanket and sitting in your car until it's ready to go.

Leaving a car running with the doors locked won't stop a thief either.

Neufeld explains, "Sometimes people lock the doors, thinking no one will be able to get in. That will slow them down for just a half a second, while they break the glass, reach in and unlock it, and take off."

Getting your car stolen isn't just a major headache for you, all drivers take a hit.

Neufeld says, "Your insurance goes up and my insurance goes up, when your car gets stolen. The buck is going to get passed on to the consumer. You and I are the consumer. It's all because someone else doesn't want to sit in their car. Then it gets stolen and my insurance goes up."

The thefts happened all over town at apartment complexes, neighborhoods and businesses between Friday and Sunday.

Police do not believe the crimes are connected at this time.

There is some good news, 5 of the 11 stolen cars have been recovered.