Police investigate “smash and grab” thefts, warn drivers of leaving valuables in vehicles

One theft was reported this morning at a local gym

FARGO, N.D. — Police are investigating a morning “smash and grab” theft at a local fitness facility.

They say these thefts can happen almost anywhere  — in the parking lot of your gym, daycare or grocery store.

“It’s very scary. I mean, you just never know what they take from you,” says Lainie Fenske of Hawley, Minnesota.

It’s when thieves smash vehicle windows and grab valuables like purses, IDs and credit cards out of them.

“It seems like in January is when we’re notifying the public of this happening in our area, so I don’t know exactly why these people are choosing North Dakota in the winter time to target, but that’s when we’ve been seeing that occur, but it’s happening, it can happen at any time of the year,” says Fargo Police Public Information Officer Jessica Schindeldecker.

Officers are investigating smash and grab theft reports in Fargo, West Fargo, Grand Forks and Sioux Falls.

In 2018, police responded to twelve cases of these thefts in Fargo that were connected to a nationwide ring known as the Felony Lane Gang.

But authorities say there are things you can do to keep your things as safe as possible.

“The biggest thing we need people to do is not only just lock their vehicles, which is not a serious issue in this case, but removing valuables from plain sight. So, if you are going to leave a wallet, a purse, or some sort of item of value in your vehicle, make sure that it’s hidden, out of sight, so underneath the car seat, under a blanket, in the trunk,” says Schindeldecker.

One Fargo woman says she makes sure to hide or take out anything potentially appealing to thieves.

“Anything valuable. Even just a shopping bag, and not having the receipt inside the shopping bag because, I mean, if it’s there and they think that there’s a possibility of getting money for it, yeah, it’s super easy to do. So yeah, we try to put things where they’re just not so conspicuous,” says Kelli Jacobson of Fargo.

And to anyone thinking of potentially taking part in the thefts, Jacobson’s message is clear.

“Listen, these things follow you for a really long time in life, and there are so many people in this community that are willing to help. So, I just feel like if you ask for what you need instead of taking it, you’ll probably get help, and then you have it without a criminal record. This is just so not worth it.”

Categories: Crime, Local News, North Dakota News