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Bella Vista has seen a significant increase in vehicle break-ins so far this year.

Lt. Byron Stival, of the Bella Vista Police Department Criminal Investigative Division, said that, as of Friday, Feb. 7, the department has seen 13 vehicle break-ins so far this year.

While this is unusually high, it's also worth noting that, around this time last year, Bella Vista saw 23 break-ins in a single night.

Some suspects have been identified in connection with a series of break-ins from January, though it's unclear if the more recent instances are related, he said.

"We'll know more when we get some of the individuals from the last vehicle break-ins in custody," Stival said. "We're working on getting the whole crew identified."

It's also worth noting that these breaking and entering instances are not isolated to Bella Vista. Benton County, Pea Ridge, Springdale, Gentry and Lowell have all seen an increase in this kind of criminal activity, he said.

"It's everywhere," he said. "Every agency's had their hands full with all this."

Agencies have been sharing data regarding these crimes and it's been very helpful, he said.

Capt. Tim Cook said that residents should be sure to lock their cars and avoid leaving valuables inside their vehicles.

Would-be thieves typically search for unlocked cars, he said, and while nothing is guaranteed to prevent a break-in, they won't typically break a window.

Motion-activated lights in and around a parking area are another great deterrent, he said.

Stival agreed that suspects have avoided locked cars. The department has collected a lot of home security footage that suggests as much, he said.

"You can see them checking door handles ... and the ones that are unlocked, that's the ones that they're getting into."

In addition to locking one's vehicle and leaving it empty of valuables, he said, anyone who sees suspicious activity should call the police immediately. A description of people, vehicles and the direction they're traveling in can be extremely helpful, he said, and officers who can locate the individuals can confirm if they're up to anything unlawful.

General News on 02/12/2020

Print Headline: Vehicle break-ins on the rise; PD has suspects in mind

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