With stolen cars on the rise, Niles police urge drivers to lock vehicles

NILES — With car thefts on the rise, Niles law enforcement officials are urging residents to take precautions against the crime.

Niles Police Department Captain Kevin Kosten reported in the city’s December newsletter that there had been 44 vehicle thefts in the city of Niles alone this year.

Tuesday, Kosten said the number had increased since the original writing of the statistic.

“We’ve had several [vehicle thefts] since then,” Kosten said. “Which is pretty high for us.”

The vehicle theft rate was an increase from 2019, according to Kosten.

He said one the consistent threads in the vehicle thefts was that vehicles had been left with ignition keys left inside.

“It’s hard for [police officers] to understand why people would leave keys in a car,” Kosten said. “Very rarely do we have a different situation than that.”

Kosten said much of the reasoning behind why someone might leave their keys in their car is usually how safe a person feels in their neighborhood.

However, he said much of the time, it is not a neighbor stealing a vehicle. Instead, he said car theft is often a crime of opportunity.

“It’s people passing through, that don’t live there or guests that are visiting,” Kosten said. “It’s not like the movies. It is rarely someone breaking in and hotwiring a car. If it is unlocked, they will look through your car. If your keys are there, they will find them.”

Despite the increase in car thefts in 2020, Kosten said he does not believe Niles to be a dangerous city. Instead, he said it is a busy city that results in a high number of calls requiring officer response.

After a vehicle is reported stolen, Kosten said many are eventually recovered.

He has seen them recovered within city limits, and as far away as Florida.

“When a car is stolen, we enter the vehicle’s information — license plate, vehicle identification number and description of the car ­— into a nationwide law enforcement database,” Kosten said. “If any police officer were to run the VIN or plate number, they would call the Niles Police Department and confirm the vehicle.”

Vehicles are recovered in varying states. Sometimes they are recovered with no damage at all, and other times, they are recovered because a crash was reported.

Kosten said the best course of action was prevention. Bringing car keys inside and locking the vehicle was the biggest step in vehicle theft prevention he gave for the Niles area.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also advised vehicle owners to park in well-lit areas, to not leave valuables visible in the vehicle and to not leave a running vehicle alone.

Berrien County

Niles restaurant receives community support for refusing to close indoor dining

Cass County

Teen dead following US-12 crash

News

PHOTO STORY: Ice sculptures draw visitors to downtown Niles

Dowagiac

Dowagiac resident marks centennial birthday

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 533,602 cases, 13,701 deaths

Dowagiac

Woman of color to lead DUS board

Cassopolis

Cassopolis organization to host virtual MLK Jr. Day celebration

Berrien County

Community partners come together for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Cassopolis

Dr. T.K. Lawless International Dark Sky Park releases 2021 stargazing schedule

Education

Edwardsburg Public Schools accepting nominations for 2021-2022 Hall of Fame

Business

Riverfront accommodations coming to downtown Niles

Berrien County

Family, friends of victim respond to release of convicted murderer

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Cass, Van Buren counties report new COVID-19 deaths

Cass County

Cass County 4-H encourages seniors to apply for scholarship

Berrien County

New virus strain, vaccines take center stage of Berrien County Health Department update

Business

Small Shops to debut at The Grand LV this weekend

Brandywine Education

Haunted house to donate scholarships to area seniors

Education

One-third of Virtual Vikings to return to classrooms second semester

Dowagiac

Brent Brewer appointed to DUS school board

Business

Niles yoga instructor offering outdoor winter session Sunday

Berrien County

Fitness organizations gear up for reopening of indoor activities

Dowagiac

SMC mourns former college president

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 528,306 cases, 13,533 deaths

Breaking News

Niles man convicted of murdering girlfriend will be released from prison Thursday