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Police seek suspects in rash of thefts from cars

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Authorities say three men broke into cars earlier this month in Winfield and are asking for help identifying the culprits.

Officers had been inundated with calls of reported vehicle break-ins and thefts from vehicles parked in driveways or on private streets, Winfield Police Chief John Perrine said.

"It appears that many of the vehicle owners became victims because they felt comfortable enough in their residential surroundings to leave their vehicle unsecured in their driveways," Perrine said in a news release.

Two residents in the 700 block of Winfield Avenue and one resident from Joshua Way awoke the morning of Feb. 4 to find their vehicles had been tampered with. The scenario was similar on the mornings of Feb. 5 and Feb. 7 when residents along Cash Lane, Riverdale Estates and West End Estates reported items stolen from their cars that were parked in their driveways.

The preliminary investigation showed the thefts took place between 11:30 p.m. and 6 a.m., Perrine said.

"In eight of the incidents there were no signs of forced entry into the vehicles," he said. "In all cases the vehicle owners determine someone had entered their vehicle and rifled through the contents located in the passenger compartment."

Eight of the nine owners affected reported thefts. Some of the stolen items included an iPhone, iPod, a woman's purse containing credit cards and cash, a stereo, work boots and loose coins.

Police were looking for suspects when one of the stolen credit cards was used at the Nitro Walmart at 4:51 a.m. on Feb. 7, Perrine said. The person using the card was a man in his early 20s wearing a dark cap and jacket. He used the car to buy a pre-paid phone card.

Minutes later, a second man in his early 20s walked into the store wearing a plaid jacket. Surveillance video showed him using the card to buy a video game.

The card was used again 10 minutes later at Speedway on Goff Mountain Road in Cross Lanes. A man in his mid-20s, described as tall, lean with close cut hair, tried to use the card to buy two VISA gift cards for $500 each but was unsuccessful.

The three men were seen leaving the convenience store together in a gray or silver Toyota Camry. The vehicle was last seen heading north on W.Va. 622.

Police believe the men are familiar with Cross Lanes and Winfield and could possibly live in either locale.  

Perrine asked for anyone who lives or works in Winfield to immediately report any suspicious activity by calling 911 or 304-586-9200.

Winfield residents are asked to be vigilant and to keep their vehicles and homes locked at all times.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at ashley.craig@dailymail.com or 304-348-4850.


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