With stolen cars on the rise, Niles police urge drivers to lock vehicles

NILES — With car thefts on the rise, Niles law enforcement officials are urging residents to take precautions against the crime.

Niles Police Department Captain Kevin Kosten reported in the city’s December newsletter that there had been 44 vehicle thefts in the city of Niles alone this year.

Tuesday, Kosten said the number had increased since the original writing of the statistic.

“We’ve had several [vehicle thefts] since then,” Kosten said. “Which is pretty high for us.”

The vehicle theft rate was an increase from 2019, according to Kosten.

He said one the consistent threads in the vehicle thefts was that vehicles had been left with ignition keys left inside.

“It’s hard for [police officers] to understand why people would leave keys in a car,” Kosten said. “Very rarely do we have a different situation than that.”

Kosten said much of the reasoning behind why someone might leave their keys in their car is usually how safe a person feels in their neighborhood.

However, he said much of the time, it is not a neighbor stealing a vehicle. Instead, he said car theft is often a crime of opportunity.

“It’s people passing through, that don’t live there or guests that are visiting,” Kosten said. “It’s not like the movies. It is rarely someone breaking in and hotwiring a car. If it is unlocked, they will look through your car. If your keys are there, they will find them.”

Despite the increase in car thefts in 2020, Kosten said he does not believe Niles to be a dangerous city. Instead, he said it is a busy city that results in a high number of calls requiring officer response.

After a vehicle is reported stolen, Kosten said many are eventually recovered.

He has seen them recovered within city limits, and as far away as Florida.

“When a car is stolen, we enter the vehicle’s information — license plate, vehicle identification number and description of the car ­— into a nationwide law enforcement database,” Kosten said. “If any police officer were to run the VIN or plate number, they would call the Niles Police Department and confirm the vehicle.”

Vehicles are recovered in varying states. Sometimes they are recovered with no damage at all, and other times, they are recovered because a crash was reported.

Kosten said the best course of action was prevention. Bringing car keys inside and locking the vehicle was the biggest step in vehicle theft prevention he gave for the Niles area.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also advised vehicle owners to park in well-lit areas, to not leave valuables visible in the vehicle and to not leave a running vehicle alone.

Cass County

Dowagiac man pleads guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct

Business

Dowagiac business cited for COVID-19 safety violations

Cass County

Cass County Chief Judge talks COVID’s impact on treatment court

News

Historians, archaeologists with ties to Fort St. Joseph to give free lectures

Buchanan

Commission votes to make One Buchanan official city board

Berrien County

Businesses in Berrien, Cass counties report disparities in mandate enforcement

Edwardsburg

Edwardsburg/Ontwa Township Police Log: Jan. 11-18

Berrien County

Berrien County’s only homeless shelter raising money for repair

Cass County

Cass County commissioners approve five-year parks plan

Cass County

Woman ordered to pay back money taken from disabled son

Dowagiac

Ascension CAO provides vaccine update to Rotary

Berrien County

Spectrum Health Lakeland, Berrien County Health Department give joint update on COVID-19 immunizations, numbers

Cass County

Niles man sentenced to probation, jail time for 27th criminal conviction

Berrien County

Michigan indoor dining to resume Feb. 1 with restrictions

Berrien County

Lakeland, health department seeking COVID-19 vaccination volunteers

Business

Canceled Ice Time Festival to impact local businesses

Berrien County

New Berrien County prosecutor eyes crime prevention, support services

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien, Van Buren counties report new COVID-19 deaths

Cass County

Cass County deputy saves dog from icy pond

Berrien County

Slow vaccine rollout hinders southwest Michigan distribution

Buchanan

Andrews University’s urban design studio arrives in Buchanan to kickoff revitalization project

Berrien County

Berrien County vaccine supplies remain limited, residents urged to have continued patience

Buchanan

‘Freddie the Stoner’ says Jimmy Kimmel changed his life

Cassopolis

Dowagiac charity campaign doubles fundraising goal