Some area residents are not getting the message to lock their vehicles.
Thieves have made off with money or guns from unlocked vehicles in at least seven municipalities in Cambria County in the past seven weeks, authorities said.
The total has risen to at least 82 unlocked vehicles entered – with burglars scooping up loose change, wallets, sunglasses and firearms.
It is unclear who is responsible as police departments scramble for solutions.
“The agencies are cooperating with one another and the district attorney’s office, and county detectives are available,” District Attorney Gregory Neugebauer said. “All credible leads are being investigated.”
West Hills Regional police Detective Dean West said officers are trying to “determine if it’s the same folks doing this, or if they’re individuals doing it on their own.” His department is investigating 36 vehicle entries since Sept. 20.
Thieves made off with money, sunglasses and a firearm from unlocked West Hills vehicles, some with keys left in the ignition, West said.
Home surveillance video shows two people on bicycles rummaging through vehicles on the morning of Oct. 12 and grabbing what they could before pedaling away, he said.
Burglars entered 23 unlocked vehicles in the Cover Hill section of Conemaugh Township late Tuesday into Wednesday, police Chief Tammi Collier said. In one case, a wallet with $300 was taken, she said. Police are viewing surveillance video footage that shows three possible suspects in the thefts.
“They appear to be young males,” Collier said.
Burglars rummaged through five unlocked vehicles in Geistown Borough on Sept. 16 and 17, taking a firearm that was later recovered in Johnstown, Geistown police Chief Nicholas Zakucia said.
Richland Township police Officer Scott Conahan said thieves have rifled through 10 unlocked vehicles parked in driveways in the past two months.
“They take whatever they can grab,” he said. “Lock your doors and keep a light on.”
East Conemaugh Borough police are investigating seven vehicle entries.
“It’s the same thing that’s happening everywhere,” police Chief Joseph Eckenrod said. “Cars are unlocked and people are entering them.”
Teenager charged with stealing guns
To date, one person has been charged.
A 17-year-old boy was charged in connection with three firearms stolen in East Taylor Township. Township police and East Conemaugh police reportedly recovered the guns after the boy led police on a chase and crashed into a building on Maple Avenue in Johnstown at 2:15 a.m. Thursday.
The boy is being prosecuted in the Cambria County juvenile court system, according to East Conemaugh police Lt. Joseph Sefcik.
Anyone with information on the crimes is asked to call the Cambria County nonemergency number at 814-472-2100.