Victims, police warn of vehicle burglaries

Dec 17, 2021, 6:58 PM | Updated: 8:30 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — Police are warning drivers to lock their cars and hide their belongings after recent vehicle burglaries in broad daylight in American Fork — a reminder that they often see an uptick around the holidays.

On Monday, police say burglars broke into two cars in front of the VASA in the middle of the day and stole some wallets. The cars were locked, so they busted open the windows.

The next day, someone did the same thing to two other cars. Those instances happened before lunch in the parking lot near Dollar Tree, which is right next to the VASA.

Kaylee Moore and Sienna Gehring park in that same lot nearly every day to attend classes at beauty school. They have been doing it for months.

“My friend ran in and was like, ‘Oh my gosh, did you drive your sister’s car?’” Moore said. “It was like the one day I drove her car.”

She followed her friend outside to find her window smashed in and her backpack gone. She said she had six months of class notes in the bag, plus her lunch and a pair of leggings. Fortunately, she had her wallet with her.

“I think that’s what they were thinking was in there, but they get leggings,” she said. “Probably wasn’t a wise choice to put my backpack in the front seat.”

Two spots away, Gehring’s passenger window was also shattered. She says she didn’t leave anything out in the open, but the burglar got away with “Amazon jewelry” that she said was worth about $30.

“I was definitely startled. The police officer had to grab me from the middle of the road because I just didn’t know what was going on. And it was just kind of scary,” Gehring said.

Lt. Josh Christensen said, “That’s the sad part is these happen very fast. I mean, it’s a matter of seconds to break the window, grab it, get back in their car and leave.”

Surveillance video from a nearby Little Caesar’s drive-thru shows a driver pull into an empty spot between the two cars, get out and swing something to smash the windows and leave seconds later.

The suspect vehicle was a white SUV, with damage to the front bumper, and missing a piece of the car near the driver side door.

“It makes me nervous,” Moore said. “I made my parents drive me the last three days.”

“I was, at first, pretty angry. You know, it’s not fun to fix a window $300 out of pocket,” said Gehring’s husband Josh. “We just don’t want it to happen to anybody else.”

Apart from the four vehicle burglaries in the parking lot during the day on Monday and Tuesday, American Fork police said they had four other vehicle burglaries outside of the Cinemark theater.

Those burglaries happened after dark around eight, but still earlier than they typically see vehicle burglaries.

“Our hope is to try and get a message out to everybody to keep their valuables out of sight,” Christensen said. “To keep your vehicles locked.”

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Victims, police warn of vehicle burglaries