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WPD sees rash of car thefts

Police charged three juveniles with stealing a trio of cars during the weekend, and are investigating a string of car thefts in Winchester.

Winchester Police Capt. Harvey Craycraft said two cars, a Mercedes and a Nissan, were taken from Mike Wilson’s used cars Saturday night or Sunday morning, and a third was taken from King Brothers. Craycraft said one of the juveniles was arrested in Lexington on a theft charge, and the vehicle was impounded. The juvenile’s mother began looking at text messages on her son’s phone and called police.

While the vehicle in Lexington was impounded, Craycraft said it was traced to Mike Wilson’s lot. When officers went by the lot, they found an open window.

As the investigation progressed, they determined a second vehicle was missing along with one from King Brothers, another used car business in Winchester.

Craycraft said several sets of car keys were recovered as well.

Craycraft said the first juvenile confessed and identified two other juveniles who participated.

Their identities were not released because of their ages.

Of the three juveniles, one was charged with two counts of first-degree burglary and theft by unlawful taking — auto. Another was charged with theft by unlawful taking — auto, and the third was charged with two counts of receiving stolen property and tampering with physical evidence.

“They’ve been hitting us pretty hard with these stolen cars,” Craycraft said.

Thursday morning, Winchester Police posted a notice on its Facebook account calling for people not to leave keys in their cars. In each case, police said the keys were “readily available.”

“We also strongly advise our citizens not to leave their vehicle running regardless of how long you will be away from your vehicle,” the post read.

Winchester Police Capt. James Hall said the department has seen about nine car thefts within the last month.

Each incident, he said, is one where the keys were left in the vehicle or were readily visible inside a building.

All of the stolen cars have been recovered, and several people have been charged.

“We’re trying to head off the next group of car thieves,” Hall said. “Most of what we’re seeing is joy rides. It’s a crime of opportunity.”

The easiest way to avoid a theft, he said, is not to leave keys in the vehicle, or leave a running vehicle unattended.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0051.

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