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Orono police alert residents after series of 'smash and grab' robberies

The thieves are targeting cars and stealing valuables left inside.

The effects of a nationwide spike in auto theft are being felt in Orono, where someone's been breaking into cars and stealing the valuables left inside.

In a Friday Facebook post, the Orono Police Department issued a warning to residents about a series of recent "smash and grab" robberies:

The news release says the thieves have been breaking car windows and stealing whatever's in sight, and describes the thefts as "typically a crime of opportunity" that "occurs in just a few minutes."

Orono police are urging residents not to leave anything of value "inside and visible" in their cars — with purses, wallets, laptops, briefcases, backpacks and shopping bags considered among the items that "draw particular attention to thieves."

"Even if you don't plan on being away for more than a minute or two, please make sure everything is secure," the news release says. "Again, this type of crime happens in just moments." 

This comes amid a national increase in car thefts, a trend that spiked in 2020 due to the pandemic. 

As USA Today notes, thieves stole 880,595 vehicles in the U.S. last year — a 10.9% increase over the year before.

The paper cites various factors in the continuing auto theft problem, including joblessness as a result of pandemic-related unemployment.

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