Car thieves caught on tape - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Farmington, MO

Car thieves caught on tape

Car thieves caught on tape
By: CJ Cassidy

FARMINGTON, Mo. - It's something many of us wouldn't think twice about - leaving your keys in the car, while you run in somewhere.

Now, proof caught on tape - that maybe you can make a difference. "The male and female approached the vehicle and fiddled around outside the vehicle for about 30 seconds," Detective Bill Gammon with the Farmington Police Department says. It was plenty of time for the couple to break into the car parked in front of the Farmington Walmart, and drive off.

But police say the keys left dangling in the ignition - made it all too easy for the pair of crooks. "Usually people that leave their cars unlocked with the keys in it - add up to a crime of opportunity," Gammon explains.

In fact police in several heartland cities say in most car thefts - victims left their keys behind. Investigators in Farmington eventually tracked down 37-year-old Thomas Watson of Doe Run, by matching a prior mugshot to the video from the surveillance tape.

But they're still surprised by how bold he and his accomplice were. The video shows the couple make a beeline for the car seemingly not worried by the people around them. Police don't know if Watson and the female scoped out cars in the lot first -or if the owner left the car running; but they do know why Watson says he stole the vehicle. "He said he needed it. It was cold out and he wanted a ride home," Gammon says.

Folks in Farmington call it a small town mentality, saying people in smaller towns are simply more trusting. "I did it to my mom's truck the other night," one driver told Heartland News, and another added, " It makes you think. You should take your keys out lock your car."

So what should you do if someone steals your car? Call police first - then call your insurance company. In the Farmington case, police recovered the stolen vehicle - but they are still looking for the female in that surveillance video.

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