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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Businesses on alert over rash of vehicle break-ins

  • A rash of customer vehicles being ransacked and vandalized at area businesses that specialize in working on cars has put Shawnee business owners on high alert, with some even conducting overnight patrols of their own to deter would-be thieves.
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    A rash of customer vehicles being ransacked and vandalized at area businesses that specialize in working on cars has put Shawnee business owners on high alert, with some even conducting overnight patrols of their own to deter would-be thieves.
    Numerous businesses in the area of Kickapoo and Kickapoo Spur have been hit, including Steve’s Paint and Body Shop and C&W Muffler.
    Holli Anthony, who owns Steve’s Paint and Body Shop with her husband, Chris, said customer vehicles at their business have been hit numerous times, with many vehicles having glass broken out and stereos taken.
    “It seems to be happening more on the weekends,” she said. “We’ve been hit hard.”
    Wes Tooman, owner of the muffler shop, said these incidents have been occurring off and on over the past two months, with activity increasing over the past couple weeks.
    On one night alone, Tooman said about 50 cars at his business, some of them locked in a bullpen area, were burglarized.
    “If they were locked, they’re breaking the windows,” he said. “They ransacked every one of the cars.”
    Because of the number of cars to go through, Tooman said the thieves spent quite a bit of time at the property. He said the thieves are going through ashtrays for spare change, and at least two aftermarket stereos were taken from vehicles there.
    Because they’ve been busy at the body shop, Anthony said it’s not uncommon for them to have 50 to 60 cars in their lots each week, and new incidents seem to occur as they have a rotation of vehicles coming in and out.
    Anthony said they’ve added lights to the parking lot areas, which didn’t seem to be a deterrent for the fenced-in lots, but they’ve also recently added cameras. They’re also putting as many vehicles inside at night as possible.
    “We’re doing everything we can,” she said, adding they’ve talked to police and also are doing their own watches.
    The damage to vehicles at the body shop alone has totaled several thousand dollars, she said, adding, “it’s very disheartening.”
    If cars are unlocked, they get ransacked. If cars are locked, then the thieves break out windows and cause more damage to the vehicles, she said.
    “Either way we lose,” Anthony said.
    Tooman, who has designated people driving through and checking his property at different times overnight, said he and other business owners in the area also are going out overnight in attempts to deter any further issues.
    Page 2 of 2 - Knowing the incidences are happening overnight, “I can’t go home and sleep at night,” Tooman said.
    Tooman, who said he and others have requested extra police patrols, said he knows it’s hard for them to catch suspects in the act unless the officer happens to drive by at the right time.
    Tooman said he discourages customers from leaving cars there overnight, and if they do, then he instructs them about what’s happened recently and advises them not to leave anything valuable inside until these thieves are caught.
    Shawnee Police Detective Ethan Rieves said they’ve been looking into all of these incidents.
    “It does appear that they are possibly connected,” he said, adding they are all the same type of businesses with numerous cars involved. At this time, police have no suspects.
    Anyone noticing suspicious activity should call police at 405-273-2121. Anonymous tips about the case also can be reported to CrimeStoppers at 405-273-0989.
     
     
     
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