The Lewis and Clark County Sheriff's Office is asking owners to lock their vehicles and bring their keys inside following a string of vehicle thefts.
In the past three days, law enforcement has recovered six stolen vehicles in Lewis and Clark County, the sheriff's office said. In all six cases the owners had either intentionally or unintentionally left their keys in their cars.
Undersheriff Jason Grimmis said the stolen vehicles were taken from different points in the county. Two are suspected to be related.
On the related thefts, a vehicle was taken from the Helena area and driven to Wolf Creek. The vehicle was left running but the owner was able to remove the key. The suspect shut the vehicle off in Wolf Creek but was unable to get it started again after filling it with gas. The suspect is then believed to have stolen a second vehicle and driven toward Great Falls, Grimmis said.
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While six stolen vehicles in such a short period is uncommon, Grimmis said that authorities do see more thefts this time of year due to people leaving cars running to warm them.
A juvenile male was arrested recently in connection with one of the thefts and authorities are looking into a suspect for a vehicle stolen on Christmas Eve and recovered on Christmas, he said.
In addition to the stress to owners, Sgt. Chris Weiss added that having to recover stolen vehicles can put law enforcement officers in dangerous situations.