Car Hopping An Increasing Trend In Tulsa

Monday, March 30th 2009, 5:32 pm
By: News On 6

By Lori Fullbright, News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The News On 6 first covered the crime trend of car hopping last September. The News On 6 has found it's worse than ever, even though it's easy to prevent.

What happens is kids walk through neighborhoods, trying car door handles and when they find an unlocked one, they steal everything inside.

Many of these kids are from privileged homes in places like Jenks and Union and they see it as a big game.

Our News On 6 crew decided to see how easy it was to find cars with unlocked doors, and found one very easily.

Our crew tried to warn that homeowner, but no one answered the door. So, our crew tried another car a couple of streets away. This time, they got bolder and tried one in a drive-way - it was unlocked.

The homeowner was alarmed to hear about the car hopping trend and to know her car could've been hit. In fact, kids are hitting up to 70 cars a day.

Police arrested five teenagers over the weekend who admitted stealing items from 150 to 175 cars in just a few days in one area.

They say it's not so much what they steal, as the thrill of stealing it. They see it as a game.

"These kids need to realize it's not a fun game, it can get you tossed away in prison," said Sgt. Brandon Watkins with the Tulsa Police Burglary Unit.

LaVor Haynie had two cars hit in his driveway last Friday night. His daughter's wallet was taken from her car and a friend lost an iPod from his.

They got their stuff back and even knew one of the boys arrested.

"It's pretty irritating. Irritating to know the young boy knew who we were and had been friends with them," said LaVor Haynie, a car hopping victim.

What can you do? Always lock your doors and don't leave anything inside your car. People have had laptops, GPS units, even a guitar stolen by car hoppers.

When car hoppers get caught, and plenty have lately, they face a felony second degree burglary charge and are putting their whole future at risk.

One of the kids arrested over the weekend, his dad was a doctor, so it's kids who don't need to steal, they just think it's fun, but it's anything but fun for the victims.