Video shows armed suspect targeting cars in East Metro neighborhood

COLUMBIA, ILL. – There’s a new alert from police about car thieves who appear to be targeting small towns in Illinois, just across the river from St. Louis.

Police in Columbia, Illinois, have shared home surveillance video of armed suspects walking down the driveway to check for cracked vehicles.

Authorities fear car thieves in St. Louis can hop on the Jefferson Barracks Bridge to reach unsuspecting targets on the other side in towns like Columbia, Millstadt, and Dupo.

Home surveillance video shows two groups working in the Columbia Lake area during overnight hours, 10 days ago. It showed them checking unlocked cars in one driveway and another across the street at the same time.

“What they do is drive on the road very slowly, one driver. The rest (four suspects) got out, checked the doors,” said Columbia Police Chief Jason Donjon.

The suspects got into 18 vehicles in a short period of time, all of them unlocked, he said. According to police, they entered a garage, stole a pickup truck and ran through a mailbox on the way.

“Really, it was very scary. An unlocked vehicle (on the driveway). It doesn’t have a key in it. It has a garage door opener in it. They opened the garage door, went in and took that van (the minivan), which had the key in it,” said Donjon.

Police found the damaged pickup truck in St. Louis the next day.

Sheriff Donjon said most of the suspects were in their teens. Even more concerning, one person was holding what appeared to be a gun when viewed from driveway to driveway.

“It looks like the audacity is really going up,” said Donjon.

Authorities posted a notice on Facebook reminding people to lock their cars and hold educational sessions for homeowners groups.

Police also encourage the installation of home surveillance cameras that can be networked and monitored by the police. They want to warn but not to frighten people.

“This is not a call to arms,” Liefer said.

“You hear something, you see something, please give us a call,” said Donjon. “We were never too busy. That’s what we’re here for.”

They say the towns remain safe with little crime.

They’re out to keep them that way. Video shows armed suspect targeting cars in East Metro neighborhood

Charles Jones

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