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Norfolk police caution drivers after investigating more than 1,000 car thefts in 2021

Police said people made most of the thefts easy by leaving their cars unlocked or running unattended.

NORFOLK, Va. — You’ve heard of click it or ticket, but what about lock it or lose it?

The Norfolk Police Department said more than 1,000 were stolen in 2021, a huge increase from its 2020 count. They said investigators find most auto thefts are preventable.

“I park my car in the same spot,” said Ghent resident Olivia Prota. “I have lived here for almost three years now and it wasn’t there!”

On Wednesday morning, Olivia Prota found out someone rummaged through cars at her apartment building and took her brand-new Honda CRV with them.

“Other cars, the content of glove boxes were next to them,” Prota said. “Some doors still slightly open, and sure enough mine was just the one that they stole.”

Prota is one of the latest auto theft victims in Norfolk, following high activity last year.

“In 2021, we had over 1,000 vehicles stolen in the city of Norfolk,” said Sergeant William Pickering.

Sgt. William Pickering with the Norfolk Police Department said that’s a 33% increase in thefts from 2020.

“When we have changes in temperature, when it is warm or very cold, we always experience an increase in stolen autos,” Pickering said.

Pickering said people made most of the thefts easy by leaving their cars unlocked or running unattended.

In December of 2021, he said NPD investigated 158 stolen cars.

“Over 78 percent of those vehicles were stolen because they were left unlocked or unattended,” Pickering said.

He said a simple click of a key fob can not only secure your car but prevent future crimes.

“We also know that stolen vehicle is probably going to be used in another criminal act and sometimes those are used in more violent acts like robberies or shootings,” Pickering said.

Prota hopes the community will keep their eyes peeled for a shiny blue Honda CRV that looks out of place.

“I have loved living here I’ve never had any issues, but I guess it happens anywhere,” Prota said.

Over the weekend, Andra Rosenberg’s car was stolen from the West Ghent area.

“I was praying it had been towed I was like if there was ever a time, please let me have put my car in the wrong spot,” Rosenberg said. “I will gladly pay to get it back.”

Fortunately, Rosenburg said police contacted her Wednesday to let her know they located her car.

How did other cities stack up in 2021? We reached out to police departments across Hampton Roads:

  • Virginia Beach – 843 (VBPD spokesperson said the 2021 data may not yet be complete)
  • Chesapeake- 2021: 377, a 14 percent increase from 2020
  • Portsmouth- 2021: 301, 2020: 423
  • Newport News- 2021: 389, 2020: 338
  • Hampton- 2021: 348, 2020: 273
  • Suffolk – 2021: 132, 2020: 154