FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Fresno police concerned about sudden surge in auto thefts
After encouraging signs of a steady decrease a sudden surge in auto theft has Fresno police concerned.
"You feel violated. Very violated. You never think it will happen to you and it does," said Katelynne Bird, Fresno.
Two days before Christmas Byrd had her 2002 Nissan Altima stolen in front of a mini-mart when she left the car running. "Not even two minutes. I literally ran in. It's a really small gas station. Went back out and my car was speeding off."
Ten days later police tell her the car was badly damaged in a high-speed chase.
The theft was part of a recent spike in stolen cars in Northwest Fresno. There were 54 in just the past two weeks. "Anytime we see a spike like that it's very concerning because those spikes can turn into trends. Those long-term trends can turn into significant increases year to date," explained Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Chief.
Dyer said the number of stolen cars in Fresno last year-- 2,947-- was the lowest since 1987. He said the recent arrests of Brian Llanes, Aaron Miller, and Thomas Garcia should bring the Northwest Fresno auto theft rate down. Dyer called them prolific auto thieves. "When you talk about individuals being able to steal sometimes 10 or 15 cars in a week, it doesn't take long before you see a significant trend in a given area," said Dyer.
Byrd learned a lesson the hard way but it's a good reminder you never want to leave your car unattended outside to warm it up.