COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A rash of thefts in which burglars steal car keys and then use the vehicles to commit more crime is hitting the area around Ohio State University, say police detectives.

The thefts happen while students are in their rooms, and the burglars walk in through unlocked doors or windows and take what they want.

On June 18, thieves broke into a house on East 19th Avenue through an unlocked window in the middle of the morning while the people inside were asleep, according to a police report.

The burglars went through the house picking up car keys, and then stole three cars: a Volvo, an Acura, and a Hyundai.

A fourth person who was visiting the house had her car stolen already, and it was used to commit crimes earlier that day, says the report.

“This kind of report is very common right now,” said a detective with the Columbus Division of Police. “College kids are waking up to find someone in the house or someone coming in the back door — they grab car keys and make off with them.

“Students need to be more cognizant of the issues. These are dangerous people who are breaking in,” the detective said.

On June 26, a similar crime happened in after 8:45 p.m. on Indianola Avenue. The burglar entered through an unlocked back door, went through the kitchen drawer, and also picked up the keys to an black Volkswagen Jetta from the living room table.

At the time, everyone was home upstairs — including the car’s owner — but they didn’t see or hear anything.

“Lock your doors and windows. When you have multiple people in the house, everyone has to be responsible for locking up places.

“Most of the time these thieves are looking to steal cars that they are looking to commit other crimes with,” the detective advised.