Thieves targeting cars parked in hardware store lots

Posted at 4:25 PM, Sep 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-29 16:33:26-04

They watch you park, get out of the car, and even follow you into the store — it's a new crime trend that's so alarming, police are sharing a warning they say all shoppers need to hear.

Sam Evans heard the warning too late.

"You got to be kidding me. My $700 leaf blower went missing. Just gone off the back of my trailer," Evans said. 

The leaf blower was taken from his trailer while he ran into Menard's. 

Evans told News 5 he wishes he trusted his gut when he noticed there were four men just sitting in the parking lot just watching him walk in.

"There was a car sitting next to us and I just had a bad feeling the whole time we were walking in," he said. 

He told News 5 he thinks one of the men who followed him in and was just watching him to tell the others when he'd be done.

It turns out he's not alone. It's a crime trend. 

Thieves target stores like Menard's and the trucks and trailers parked there. 

"They'll have one guy follow him inside the store with a cell phone and update the other guy, so as soon as they check out they know and they don't get caught," Massillon Police Sgt. Brian Muntean told News 5. 

The theft is totally changing things for Sam Evans and his new business. 

"I'm gonna put cables through all my stuff and lock it together," he told News 5.

Sgt. Muntean said criminals are targeting the expensive, unlocked construction gear.

"A lot of these contractors stop at a place like this on the way to their job site. And these criminals? They know that."

The man investigating the crimes is sharing a message for shoppers, no matter what town they call home.

"If it's not secure to the ground or something heavy it's only a matter of time before it disappears," Sgt. Muntean said.