Amherst police urge residents to lock cars after recent thefts

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) — Police in Amherst are urging neighbors to lock their cars and close their garage doors after a rash of break-ins this month.

The summer months mean an uptick in car accidents, along with car thefts and break-ins. 
According to Amherst police, they have responded to 46 reports of larcenies from vehicles in the last 2 weeks alone. All the victims’ cars were unlocked at the time of the break-ins.

“Unfortunately, it tends to be a crime of opportunity for the most part,” said Amherst Lieutenant Brett Christmann.

Between May 19th and May 25th, a total of 12 cars in the town were stolen and 17 broken into.

We spoke with Paula Andrea, admin for the WNY stolen vehicles Facebook page, who says trends like this are leaving residents worried.

“As somebody who grew up in Amherst and still has family and friends that live in the area, yes, it is a very safe area and I’m sure it will continue to be safe. But it’s important to understand that being a victim, it hurts. It’s painful,” said Andrea.

Amherst police tell us the number one defense against car theft is the simple act of locking up your vehicle.

“The vast majority have been just unlocked vehicles. So, we just encourage people, we know they have busy lives and they’re going to or from activities and balancing kids and family. We just encourage them to stop, take a minute before they leave their vehicle, make sure they have all their stuff and they’re locking their car,” continued Christmann.

This issue isn’t just in Amherst. In Niagara Falls on Wednesday, a car was stolen while it was running with a 1-month-old child inside. The suspect abandoned the car, taking only the mother’s purse.

“Opportunity doesn’t discriminate. Unfortunately, the citizens that are trying to do the right thing are the ones that are paying the price. Their insurance doesn’t cover all of this. They have emotional distress. It spans into their work life, their family life,” added Andrea.

Lt. Christmann says suspects have ranged from young teens to adults, so what can be done to prevent more break-ins?

“It starts with us. It’s getting out there and making sure that we’re visible and doing our job. But also, we need help from the community. The old ad lib of if you see something, say something that goes a long way,” stated Christmann.

For Andrea, a solution isn’t more police but social help for those who feel the need to commit these crimes.

“Let’s come together and not just talk about what can we do about this, but the question should really be about what we can do before this becomes a problem and what the next problem may be.”

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Dillon Morello is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has been part of the News 4 team since September of 2023. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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