MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Thefts in cars are on the rise across the Twin Cities metro and police say it’s leading to another big problem.

Maple Grove Police reported nearly 50 thefts in vehicles since July 1 and more than half of those thefts have exclusively been in the residential areas to the west of Interstate 94/494. Most of those crimes occurred because vehicles were left unlocked.

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In addition to the thefts, there are reports of vehicle tampering. This means someone rummaged through an unlocked vehicle but didn’t take anything.

Police say the uptick in auto thefts has led to an increase in residential burglaries. This happened because some of the unlocked cars had garage-door openers.

Maple Grove resident Mary Dotson Sutton told WCCO she was a victim of car theft in 2019. The traumatizing experience helped her become more aware. Now she is doing all she can to prevent her property from getting hit again.

“Our cars were broken into. Sunglasses were taken, change, credit cards, all up and down the neighborhood,” said Sutton. “It’s just the fact that they went in your car and you do feel violated. You don’t know if they’ll come back.”

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“We’ve been more mindful of keeping our vehicles in the garage with the garage door shut and the front door locked,” said Allen Krystosek, resident of Maple Grove.

While some neighborhoods remain generally safe, residents agree you can never be too cautious.

“You never know, if they’re desperate for something, you could be the target they’re going to pick” said Sutton.

Plymouth, Wayzata and Woodbury have also seen a spike in car thefts. Plymouth saw 19 car thefts last month and Woodbury reported 21 thefts within a 2 week period.

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Police are urging residents to lock their vehicles, close their garage doors and turn on outdoor lights.