Greenville Police Chief Harold Roseberry doesn’t know why suspects were stealing so many cars last month, but he does know from where most of them were taken.

Three times as many vehicles were reported stolen locally in October than in September.

“We went from five to 15 auto thefts,” Roseberry said. “From the information that I’ve gathered, it appears to be limited to the Highway 69 area, coming through the city and going out north.”

While police officials are urging residents to take the usual precautions with their vehicles, Roseberry said there does not appear to be any organized car theft ring operating locally. In fact, the truth appears to have been just the opposite.

While it is not unusual to see a one-month spike in vehicle thefts — the number of automobiles stolen in October was the same as in October of last year — Roseberry was curious to see where the thefts occurred, so he mapped out each of the locations.

“Every car taken; except for one out on Farm-To-Market Road 1570, one downtown and one on north Wesley, was within a couple of blocks of Highway 69,” Roseberry said.

Another factor he noticed was how many of the thefts occurred at or near apartment complexes or motels.

“That tells me something is working differently than what we usually see,” Roseberry said.

In the past, when such increases have been noted, it has usually been a case where the thieves targeted automobile dealerships and business parking lots along Interstate 30.

“At first glance I wanted to think someone was using Highway 69, knowing there are easy ways out, such as Interstate 30, Highway 66 and so forth,” Roseberry said.

Of the 15 vehicles listed as stolen, seven were recovered by the end of the month and three people were arrested.

But then Roseberry began diving deeper into the statistics.

“Two of the cars were loaned to friends who didn’t bring them back,” Roseberry said. Two others were listed as stolen because they came up missing in an inventory of an automobile dealership.

“One was sold to a friend, who didn’t pay,” Roseberry said.

And one driver broke the cardinal rule of protecting his car from being stolen.

“He came up to an apartment complex to pay the rent, left the car running with the keys in it and he came back out to find his car is gone,” Roseberry said. The car was later found in Quinlan.

While the above cases certainly do not explain all of the thefts, Roseberry said there is no evidence to show Greenville has become the home of sophisticated car thieves.

“What have we had stolen? A 1989 Chevrolet Caprice, three motorcycles, a 1994 Chevrolet pickup, a 1996 Lincoln Town Car, a van,” Roseberry said. “There is not a coordinated effort that I see to come in and steal expensive cars. That’s just not happening.”

Some of the stolen vehicles have been recovered in other cities, while the Greenville Police Department also recovers vehicles stolen elsewhere and left here when the driver is through with it.

“People need a ride, they get in and go,” Roseberry said.

Through the end of October, there had been 91 reported auto thefts in Greenville, down more than 36 percent from the 143 vehicles listed as stolen through the same point last year.

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