ST. LOUIS — Staff at the electrical union hall on The Hill in St. Louis sifted through security footage on Thursday after more than a dozen cars were burglarized in their parking lot.
IBEW Local 1 is the latest victim of the “smash and grab” trend where thieves break into cars or property and steal items.
A St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson told 5 On Your Side that officers responded to a call relative to the break-ins just before 2 p.m. on Wednesday in the Electrician Hall's parking lot off Elizabeth Avenue near Hampton Avenue.
According to officials, several firearms were stolen from some of the vehicles, and at least four individuals received citations for "failure to secure a firearm in an unattended vehicle in a permanently affixed locked container."
On Thursday, officers patrolled the union’s lot, which was still covered with broken glass, and set up their own cameras.
Business Manager Frank Jacobs told 5 On Your Side it happened while class was in session and the thieves had damaged 11 apprentices’ cars, a secretary, and a janitor’s cars.
"One of the last cars they hit had an alarm on it. Somebody heard it and they walked outside," Jacobs said. "That was probably within about two minutes after they were gone."
The footage showed a white Kia with no license plate coming down Elizabeth Avenue, off Hampton Avenue.
Two men hopped in and out of the car in dark-colored clothing and ski masks and could be seen smashing vehicle windows and taking out weapons.
One wore a satchel and another in a black hoodie with a white design.
Jacobs said the union was working on their security and supporting their staff.
"We're going to try to take care of little of that, help them a little bit with the deductible. We're just going to look at some other possible situations where we got a gated parking lot," he said.
He added that he wished for the young people committing the crimes to do better.
"We offer a great apprenticeship program. We offer great careers for people. If you got that kind of skill where you are that technically savvy. There are a lot of careers out there that you can use. Use that skill for good as opposed to stealing people’s stuff," he said.
The union is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Anyone with information can call Crimestoppers at 866-371-TIPS.
Here is a note from SLMPD about protecting yourself against theft in the coming months.
We continue to implore citizens to please keep valuables out of sight OR, preferably, leave valuables at home. This is especially the case for firearms as many thieves use these types of crimes of opportunity to look for firearms in vehicles. As we approach the holiday season/colder months, we understand people will be out attending holiday events and/or shopping, and they may feel inclined to bring their firearms for personal reasons. However, since many venues and stores do not allow firearms to be brought inside, it's best if citizens leave them at home and not in their cars.
As always, suspicious activity should be reported to 911.