South Burlington Police warn of jump in car thefts, make arrest

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:33 PM EDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 7:14 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - South Burlington Police say they’re seeing an uptick in the number of stolen cars. And they have arrested an individual they say is responsible for some of them.

Chief Shawn Burke says they arrested Marlon Taylor, 28, of Burlington. Police say he’s stolen seven vehicles from a business on Williston Road in just the last two months.

Taylor faces charges including grand larceny and possession of stolen property.

Burke reminds folks to be vigilant.

“What we’re seeing are crimes of opportunity. Unlocked cars, keys,” Burke said.

The chief says his department is working to investigate an increase in stolen vehicles throughout the area.

Police say over the course of the last two months, Taylor stole keys from a long-term parking area on Williston Road and then returned later in the day to steal the cars.

“It was part of a scheme to steal from retail locations to either sell or obtain drugs and then these cars were found. Oftentimes they are detected by the police and that’s how Taylor was apprehended. Much of the time we’re finding them discarded in other locations,” Burke explained.

According to data from South Burlington Police, from 2013 to 2020, they received an average of 23 stolen car reports annually.

In 2021, that number more than doubled to 47 reports.

And so far this year, the department reports 40 stolen cars.

Not only are people stealing whole cars, but important and valuable pieces of them, as well.

“They’re like a formula one pit crew. They jack up the car, they’ve got an electric gun with the proper sockets, and an electric saw, zip, zip, zip, and they’re out of there literally in a couple of minutes,” said Brian Moeglin of Brian’s North End Automotive, referring to catalytic converter thieves.

The part is instrumental in converting engine emissions into safe gases released into the air. Without them, cars can be very loud.

“Generally what we’ve seen is a specific year, make and model Toyota Prius from ‘04 to ‘09 because they are fairly easily accessible converter to steal and people have it down to a science,” Moeglin said.

Chief Burke says there are only so many places you can sell scrap metal in the area, and that’s typically where the police start their investigations.

He says of the 40 cars stolen in 2022, 17 have either been unlocked or the keys were inside. So he says be sure to lock your car and take the keys with you.

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