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— Police say thieves bashed in windows of eight vehicles, stealing valuables left inside, and they are trying to figure out if all the incidents are related.

Lt. Dale Dwojakowski of the Sterling Heights Police Department said there is no evidence so far the thefts were by the same person or people, but many happened in the same area.

On Thursday and Friday, four of the thefts were in the 19 Mile and Dequindre area. Others took place near Metropolitan Parkway and Schoenherr.

“We haven’t had any great amount of break-ins prior to this,” he said. “It is not a growing trend. It is just something that happened.

“In each of these cases people left valuables in the car like purses, computers, things you should never do.”

Also, it’s unclear what the thief or thieves used to break windows, Dwojakowski said.

Terri Miller, executive director H.E.A.T., a statewide auto theft prevention program, said such crimes are usually committed by kids or young adults who target suburban areas such as Sterling Heights, where people think they are safe from such crimes.

Miller suggests parking your vehicle in the garage, if you have one. And for those without a garage, don’t leave valuables in vehicles, close the windows and lock the doors.

“One of the things an old law enforcement contact told me a long time ago was, ‘I have never taken a theft report from a locked garage.’ We put our valuable cars in the driveway and our junk locked inside our garage. Our advice is to clean out your garage,” she said.

Miller suggests neighbors watch out for one another. Anyone with tips on thefts should call H.E.A.T.

“It is confidential, you don’t have to leave your name, you don’t have to testify in court, you can help us get these folks off the street and get a nice reward,” she said.

Tipsters can earn up to $10,000 in reward for information on auto theft activity.

To report information on stolen vehicles, chop shops and suspected auto theft activities including insurance fraud, identity theft and carjackings call (800) 242-HEAT or to to 1800242HEAT.com.

uwatson@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2613

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