The circle starts at a handful, but could grow wider as the investigation continues into a rash of unlocked cars being ransacked in Hartford.

Captain Jason Gearman of the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office revealed that a group of youngsters broke into about thirty cars in Hartford with reports coming in since Monday.

“Last night in Hartford we had numerous car burglaries from cars that were unlocked. It’s a common theme especially in the springtime. We get sick of preaching it, but please lock your cars.”

None of the cars were driven away, however one of the cars did have a firearm that was stolen, which was subsequently recovered. The investigation is still in the early stages and Gearman said there were about between dozen to thirty car burglaries all in the Hartford area.

“Right now we’ve got a group of four or five juveniles that we’re in the process of (questioning). There may be more (involved).”

As a general rule, Gearman noted that people who ransack unlocked vehicles will likely do it to feed a drug habit.

“If you’re going to leave your car unlocked and the keys in it, it’s going to get stolen eventually. In the uptick of the drug crimes we’re seeing, it becomes a concern.”

The arrests were made through the course of Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning and at this point in the investigation, drugs may have been a factor. Overall, Gearman felt that it was important to encourage the public to lock their car doors, especially in light of other cases in Sioux Falls involving guns taken from unsecured vehicles.

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