Richmond Bar patrons targeted by thieves who steal from cars

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As people enjoy Richmond's nightlife, it's also a time for criminals to go to work. We've learned thieves are now targeting a specific group of victims.

The people hitting the bars and clubs. They're leaving items in plain view. Women in particular, hop out of cars with purses in hand, then turn around and stuff them under the seat. But be warned, criminals are waiting for the right time to strike!

An early start to the hustle and bustle of city nightlife. First Fridays Art Walk draws several thousand to downtown Richmond. But a criminal element lies in wait.

"We noticed a lot of times when we have entertainment venues where we have visitors to the downtown area they tend to be the ones victimized now," said Richmond Police Lt. Hamlet Hood.

While The Fourth Precinct saw a 42% drop in thefts from cars compared to last year, Lt Hood said it's still a problem around 5th and Main and Adams and Marshall. Areas not far from popular restaurants and bars. Crooks strike between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.

"People don't realize it's still a city at night and people still need to be cautious about their goods," said Brian Lawrence.

Lawrence works at Popkin Tavern where employees are encouraged to take precautions.

"We're very aware of bringing everything we can into the building," said Lawrence.

He said anything left behind in his car is under lock and key.

I held him to that...

"We're usually on the side streets here," said Lawrence.

Which police said are generally the problem spots.

"Whoa, look what I see in there, uh, oh roll on that you've got a dollar in there you've been busted," I said to Lawrence.

Incentive for a criminal.

"While it might be minimal to most people to a lot of people here that use it for substance abuse issues or may be mentally challenged they've hit the lottery," said Lt. Hood.

Police walk the beat hoping to keep crooks at bay.

Other people I spoke with said they do feel this area has become a lot safer with the addition of more lighting and increased police patrols. But police warn to plan ahead before a night on the town by leaving anything you don't want stolen at home or in your trunk.

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