Neighbors ask to band together to prevent car thefts

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Recent victims of car theft want to band together with neighbors to prevent the crime from happening again.

Lisa Jones's car was stolen last month while it was running in the garage.

According to the Madison Police Department, 435 stolen cars were reported last year, compared to 417 in 2018.

Police also say last month, 56 cars were reported to be stolen, 54 of which had keys in them or had keys easily accessible.

Lisa Jones, who lives in Madison’s east side, was among the victims of car theft in December. She said the crime happened within what “felt like” 30 seconds, after her son started the car and, with the garage door open, ran inside the house to grab something.

“It was shock to come out here,” Jones said. “It was nothing, and it happens so quick. It’s just crazy. It’s unbelievable.”

To her surprise, her neighbor who lives across the street also had his car stolen, nine days before she experienced the crime herself. But Jones said she did not know that at the time.

Kim Richman, who lives in another neighborhood on the east side, is rallying residents together under a kind of neighborhood watch program.

“The Good Neighbor Project is informing people and educating people how to prevent this from happening,” Richman said. “To be proactive rather than reactive.”

On top of the common advice to lock car and garage doors, Richman said that knowing immediate neighbors and keeping in contact with them are essential to combat any kind of crime or emergency.

“Think of it like a tic-tac-toe board,” he suggested. “You’re in the center. Get to know the three neighbors behind you, three in front of you—across the street—and one on each side.”

Jones agreed that communication among neighbors is key.

“That’s how we can show each other that we’re looking out, that we care. That's how you catch people by hearing a lot of things from different people and adding stuff together,” she said.

Jones said her car was recovered by a “concerned citizen.” She also said that she knows the suspect’s identity but, after passing it to police, does not believe the suspect has been caught.