MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police departments across the west Twin Cities metro are are alerting people about a spike in car thefts. Places like Plymouth, Wayzata, Minnetonka and Orono are warning residents to lock their doors and stay vigilant.

Detectives across different departments are sharing information to try and catch the thieves, but neighbors in Plymouth are keeping watch themselves amid growing concerns.

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“They’re very quiet, very coordinated, come in very quickly, do what they need to do and leave,” Oemar Dieng, of Plymouth, said.

Dieng’s newly purchased security camera captured someone trying to get into his car in the middle of the night last week.

“That’s the guy trying to open this car door,” Dieng said.

He soon learned that was just a fraction of what’s been going on in the neighborhood.

“We learned not only were there several cars stolen but there was also a gentleman who walked into the burglars and actually wrestled one of the guys in the kitchen,” Dieng said. “There was an attempted break-in across the street.”

Plymouth police say at least 19 cars have been stolen this month, way more than usual.

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“I would kind of argue they are more brazen than what I’ve seen in my 20 years here,” Plymouth Police Department Capt. Michael Reed said.

Reed says the thieves appear to work in groups, and in several cases have gone inside homes and taken keys, wallets or purses right off of the counter, often using the cars to commit other crimes before ditching them.

“They just start going through driveways, finding cars, pulling on doors. They don’t break anything — they want to be quiet, they want to be fast,” Reed said.

Police are trying to warn people, and just last week they went door to door with flyers reminding people to lock their doors and hide their valuables. But it’s not just a problem in Plymouth.

“This is a west metro incident and what they’re doing is coming from one city to another and kind of coming back and circling around,” Reed said.

For now Dieng and his neighbors will continue their nightly watch and group text thread, on alert for intruders.

“It reminds us that even though most people are good and have good intentions, there are some bad actors out there,” said Dieng.

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Plymouth police asks anyone with helpful video to send it to them. They say before you go to bed for the night, make sure your car is locked, your keys and garage opener are hidden, and the door from your garage to your house is locked.

Erin Hassanzadeh