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Thieves targeting unlocked, push-button-start vehicles in Nassau, say cops

A push-button starter, cropped from a photo on

A push-button starter, cropped from a photo on Qfamily's flickr account. (License)

Luxury cars and sport utility vehicles with push-button starts and key fobs are being targeted by thieves, Nassau County police said Thursday.

Just this month, five cars, all with their fobs or keys inside, were snatched in various communities, police said, pointing to a growing problem that prompted an alert from acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter.

Thefts are happening "all times of the day or night," and vehicles being stolen are those that are unlocked with a key fob left in a vehicle equipped with a push-button start, the release said.

"It's a small uptick and it's just beginning, but we want to get word out -- don't make it easy for these guys," said Det. Vincent Garcia, a police spokesman.

In one case, an unlocked Audi with the fob inside the car was taken from a garage with its door open, he said.

In such cases, the car thieves don't have to to do anything, Garcia said: "They just press the button on the ignition and they drive away."

Last year, a man was arrested in a string of luxury car thefts in Nassau, he said.

Suffolk police said they could not immediately determine if there was an uptick in luxury car thefts in the county.

In many parts of the nation, the theft of higher-end cars has been a problem in the past few years, authorities have said. These cars are shipped to Europe, where the market for stolen luxury autos is robust, authorities said.

Police offered several pointers to help safeguard vehicles, including keeping them locked with all windows closed, taking your keys with you and securing remote-control garage door openers.

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