South Portland Sees a Dozen Car Thefts, Some Still Missing

Police say the thieves appear to target people who leave their cars running to warm up or while running inside for a quick errand

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Imagine warming up your car in the driveway on a cold day, only to return and find it had disappeared.

Over the past several weeks, at least a dozen people in South Portland, Maine have had that happen to them or have ended up in a similar situation.

According to South Portland Police, at least three vehicles had not been recovered as of Thursday and the latest theft happened this past Saturday.

So far, investigators say they have arrested "a few" juveniles in connection with the thefts but are still looking into another group who may be involved.

In addition to targeting victims warming up their cars before using them in the morning, people have also had their cars stolen while leaving them running in the parking lots of take-out restaurants.

While the drivers ran in to grab food, the thieves would jump in the vehicles and take them elsewhere.

A number of drivers NECN/NBC 10 Boston spoke to on Thursday in South Portland said they lock their cars at all times but are still surprised that the rash of car thefts happened at all.

"I would never do that," said Helene Gould, a South Portland resident originally from New York, who said the habit of locking her car is ingrained in her.

Still, she added that "you don’t normally hear about," these types of thefts in Greater Portland.

"My wife would kill me, that would be the first thing," said Frank Delong of Cape Elizabeth, explaining that he too locks his car all the time.

In light of the thefts, South Portland Police are urging drivers to be aware of their surroundings, lock their cars, take in their keys and put away valuables in cars so they are not in sight.

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