COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Division of Police is urging drivers to take precautions as the number of car thefts across central Ohio climbs higher.

“We’re definitely seeing an uptick this year in 2022 versus 2021,” said Commander Duane Mabry, from the Columbus Police Property Crimes Bureau.

According to Mabry, CPD had received 2,940 reports of stolen vehicles this year, as of Monday morning. That is 648 more than what was reported at the same time last year.

Mabry said CPD had received 495 reports of attempted car thefts this year, compared to the 37 on this date in 2021, adding the increase may be due in part to more drivers now reporting the attempted thefts.

While the figures have increased, Mabry said enforcement has as well. Detectives now process stolen vehicles, whereas patrol officers did that a year ago.

“The mission behind that and the purpose behind that is because each of these stolen cars — they’re a property crime, right, but there’s the dozen other crimes associated with each of those stolen cars that if we can solve those, then we could have an impact on crime overall,” he said.

Mabry said police are seeing teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 stealing most of these cars.

Mabry’s advice for drivers is that they park in a garage, if possible, or in a well-lit area. He also urges drivers to lock their doors and keep their valuables out of sight.

He said those who witness suspicious activity should report it by calling Columbus police at 614-645-4545.