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Numerous car break-ins reported in east Medford

Thieves rifled through 18 cars in east Medford in recent days, taking spare change, a wallet, credit cards and even a gun left inside the vehicles, Medford police said.

The break-ins — six reported on Thursday, Jan. 2 and 12 on Sunday, Jan. 5 — were scattered throughout the Brookdale and Gardendale neighborhoods. Police said all cars were unlocked, so the suspect or suspects opened the doors and rummaged through. Property including credit cards, a wallet and a firearm was swiped.

"In some cases, nothing" was taken, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said. "In some cases, just the change from the center console.

The cars were undamaged, with no broken windows or picked locks. There were no break-in attempts on garages.

"We see these a lot," Budreau said. "If you leave your car unlocked overnight, you're asking for somebody to open the door and look around and steal any property that could be in it."

None of the property has been recovered. Police are checking personal surveillance systems in the neighborhood to see if they picked up any activity, but nothing concrete has been spotted so far.

Investigators said strings of thefts from cars are not uncommon, but having thieves return within days is unusual.

"Thieves will target one particular area and they will target as many cars as they can," Budreau said. "Usually when you do that, you put the neighbors on high alert, as well as the police."

Police said the neighborhood will go for months without any reports of criminal activity, potentially leading to residents getting lax with locking up.

"They get complacent," Budreau said. "All it takes is one time with leaving your door unlocked."

Officials said locking up and not leaving valuable property inside in plain sight is key in warding off thieves.

The string of thefts comes on the heels of the 27 car thefts reported around Medford in December, almost double the amount reported in December 2012.

— Ryan Pfeil