EUGENE, Ore. - Year to date, car thefts are down slightly in Eugene.
But a spike in recent weeks concerns police, who are reaching out to residents in area with the most stolen cars.
Sgt. Lisa Barrong said Eugene averages 5 or 6 stolen cars per week. Two weeks ago, police responded to 9 reports of stolen cars. Last week, officers got 12 stolen car reports.
The thefts are concentrated in northwest Eugene, west of Highway 99 in the area around main roads like Barger, Terry and Royal.
One thief can rack up a stack of stolen car reports by "leapfrogging," Barrong said: thieves steal the car, drive a short distance, then steal another car. The crooks grab anything of value inside the car before ditching the rig.
Barrong said the first line of defense: door locks. Thieves check for unlocked doors and target the vehicles they find easiest to enter.
Police want to work with the public to halt the recent spike in vehicle thefts and keep a better trend going: through June 15, 2013, police got 213 reports of stolen cars in Eugene. During the same period in 2012, 248 cars were reported stolen - a difference of 14 percent.