ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Monroe County Association of Chiefs of Police has an important warning for drivers out there in the county.

Carjackings and other automobile robberies are up significantly.  Since the end of the Summer all over Monroe County, authorities at all levels have been seeing more reports come in for stolen vehicles and automobile theft.  

“With the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office this year so far, we’ve had 192 stolen vehicles,” Public Information Officer Matthew Bottone said. “Obviously, that is a significant number, a lot of these vehicles recently are being used in other crimes. Assaults, robberies, shootings, homicides.” 

Most of these incidents occur at night by multiple people who seem to be working in a coordinated effort. Armed with weapons.  

“Through Ring camera footage they’re groups traveling and taking a neighborhood then spreading out trying different car doors,” Sgt. James Coughlin with Gates Police explained. “If they see an opportunity, we’ve been seeing they’ve entered homes and stolen keys to cars.” 

To avoid falling victim to car theft, police encourage people to keep their vehicles parked in a well-lit area when out or at home. Also, have all valuables hidden or kept in your home. And during any encounter, do not engage.  

“Let it go, it is not worth you getting killed or injured over a vehicle,” Sgt. Bottone said. “I know if it was my own vehicle to I’m sure I would have a hard time making that choice. But each one of us always has something to live for and you have to think does that outweigh this vehicle.”  

In some cases, the suspects have been as young as 14. If you ever see any suspicious activity around cars in your neighborhood, auto burglaries, or carjacking in process police urge you to call 9-1-1 immediately.  

Other signs something is wrong is if you see a car in the middle of the night have its inside lights on with no one inside. Those can be implications for someone who broke into it. 

Police have identified three trends with local carjackings:

  1. During the night, residential neighborhoods are being targeted, often by a group of teenagers, 3 – 6 people, entering unlocked vehicles. They will find a set of keys inside the vehicle and steal the car.
  2. Victims are being forced out of their cars by the threat of physical force or a weapon is being displayed such as a gun or knife (Car Jacking).
  3. Residential homes are being entered, often during the nighttime, by locating an unlocked door or window. Once inside the home, they locate the keys to the car on the kitchen counter.

Police offered the following suggestions to prevent, or be safe during, a carjacking:

  1. If you are confronted with a weapon or physical force, surrender the vehicle. A car is replaceable, a life is not!
  2. Leave outside house lights on during the night.
  3. Keep your house doors and windows locked.
  4. Keep your car locked
  5. Don’t leave a spare set of keys in your parked vehicle.
  6. Don’t leave any firearms in your vehicle.
  7. If you see your car dome light in the middle of the night, or see anyone checking unlocked cars by walking up and down driveways, quietly call 911 and provide as much information as you can.