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‘Crime of opportunity:’ 2 vehicle thefts reported in less than 2 hours on Thursday morning

WAUWATOSA -- Wauwatosa police are warning residents that criminals are taking advantage of the cold. Thieves stole two cars left running on Thursday, Jan. 31. One victim says it only took seconds.

Officials said in a tweet,  those thefts happened near 110th and Congress -- and 82nd and North Ave. Both cars were left running, unlocked and unattended.

"Broken mirrors from passenger to driver's side," said Kal Chanmavong, victim.

In a matter of seconds, Kal Chanmavong's morning went from bad to worse.

"They saw me chasing them and they sped off," said Chanmavong.

Chanmavong's truck battery had died in the cold and he started his other car to jump it.

"Went inside with my charger to charge it up, not even a minute, my car was gone," Chanmavong said.

Kal Chanmavong

Two criminals had pulled up into his driveway and hopped in the running vehicle.

"Another person came out of the rear door and just came and took the car," said Chanmavong.

They headed north on 110th near Ruby. Chanmavong ran after but it was too late.

"These criminals are looking for a crime of opportunity," said Sgt. Katie Gierach, Wauwatosa Police Department.

Wauwatosa Police Sgt. Katie Gierach says Chanmavong's was one of two vehicles stolen Thursday morning. Six of the nine car thefts this year, were taken after someone left an unlocked car running.

"These criminals drive up and down the streets looking for the plume of exhaust," said Sgt. Gierach.

Officers are patrolling neighborhoods watching for crimes like this -- but officials say they need residents to never leave their running vehicles unattended.

Chanmavong isn't taking any chances. He's warning others to be careful.

"Don't leave your cars running if you don't have it locked," Gierach said.

No arrest have been made in the latest stolen car case and the vehicles haven't been found.

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