Car thefts are up in St. Louis. St. Louis City police report 17 car thefts each day.
Eat Here STL owner Preston Walker is one of the newest victims.
“Pretty much panic,” said the business owner. “June is our busiest month, so this is just a nightmare,” Walker added.
On May 29, his refrigerated vehicle was taken from their gated site on Manchester Road 5000.
After reporting it to police, an employee saw the stolen van on Arkansas Avenue in Tower Grove South a week later.
SLMPD reports 2,773 stolen automobiles this year, up from 1,640 last year.
Police matched the VIN and returned it to Walker. He claims authorities didn’t take fingerprints or other evidence that the van was full with a bike, guitar, and scrap metal.
“The police helped us get it back but there wasn’t a lot of investigation that went on there, I wasn’t really investigating anything I was just trying to clean it out and the cab was like full of candy wrappers which was very strange but I found a Dollar Tree receipt,” Walker said.
Walker went to Dollar Tree and an employee pulled up the camera video that matched the ticket. They saw the two people who bought the candy in the van. Walker gave police the information, but no arrests.
Sgt. Charles Wall told News4 that he couldn’t comment on this case but explained how stolen vehicles are processed.
We prioritize recovered autos based on the theft. Robbery or carjacking would take precedence over midnight parking lot theft. Rain may taint a vehicle’s exterior, and interior surfaces may be unsuitable for fingerprinting. Sgt. Wall said owners sometimes don’t want to wait for a technician to respond if they can’t.
Walker said his car was locked, but he advises others to do the same and add a club and an Airtag to trace it if taken.
Stolen autos are a regional issue in St. Louis.