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Theft spike spurs warning

Police are reporting a recent increase in vehicle break-ins throughout Jackson County, culminating in a rash of 11 thefts from vehicles in a northeast Medford neighborhood earlier this week.

The break-ins were clustered in the area of North Keene Way and Temple Drive just off Crater Lake Avenue near Kennedy Elementary School.

"In addition to valuable electronic items, the suspects stole debit and credit cards that could be used for identity theft purposes," Medford police Lt. Tim Doney said.

Cynthia Bennett and her brother, who live on Lausanne Circle off Temple Drive, were unlucky victims who lost more than $8,000 between them from their two cars.

The culprit pried open the door of Bennett's Plymouth Neon sometime after 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. When she awoke the next morning her glove box was ransacked and her radio was gone.

"These aren't kids doing this," Bennett said. "These guys knew what they were doing."

In addition, Bennett's checkbook was taken, forcing her to cancel her account before it was drained.

Bennett's brother was hard hit in the burglary spree. He lost an expensive stereo system among other high-end electronics. His loss alone was valued at more than $8,000, Bennett said.

Their cars were parked in their driveway well off the street and close to their home.

A number of the recent break-ins have occurred at local church parking lots during Sunday morning and evening services, Doney said.

Most of the vehicles entered had been locked. The suspect used some type of device to disengage the locks. The victims found their cars after church or the next morning with the doors ajar.

"We suggest people take the valuables out of their cars or lock them in the trunk out of sight," Doney said. "Also, we ask that people look out for their neighbors and call us if they see anything suspicious."

Doney also reminded the public to not leave important financial documents such as checks and bank statements inside cars. These items can be used to purge bank accounts, leaving victims penniless.

Bennett said she will take action to deter future break-ins.

"We are buying an outside light and a camera," she said.

Anyone with information on these crimes is asked to call Medford police detectives at 774-2230.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.