Columbus police are warning residents that criminals out to make a quick buck are targeting cars.

Columbus police are warning residents that criminals out to make a quick buck are targeting cars.

Recently, there has been a 30 percent increase in car break-ins, with more break-ins reported in nearly all areas of the city in both commercial areas and residential neighborhoods, said Sgt. Rich Weiner, spokesman for the Columbus Division of Police.

"We have our crime analysts who are constantly monitoring our reports, and they have noticed a sharp increase," Weiner said. "It's widespread."

Items being taken include GPS units and accessories, clothing, shoes, purses and CDs -- basically anything that can be resold at consignment shops or on the Internet, Weiner said.

"All of those can be sold at a minimum price," he said. "People aren't looking to strike gold."

Police are trying to spread the word about the increase in car break-ins, Weiner said, and they are encouraging people to place anything left in their cars out of site of passers-by.

Items left in plain view offer criminals walking through a parking lot or along a street with the perfect opportunity, Weiner said.

"You can punch in a window and get in and get out," he said. "The idea is to make it as unattractive as possible; keep things hidden and out of site."

Officer Chris Riley, the city's police liaison to the 3rd Precinct, which covers most of Clintonville, said the increase in car break-ins is especially evident in south Clintonville. With a higher number of homes, Riley said the neighborhood gives thieves more targets.

According to police statistics, there were 32 thefts from motor vehicles in the 3rd Precinct in May, with more than half occurring between North Broadway and Arcadia Avenue.

The most common items stolen, Riley said, included portable GPS units and MP3 players.

Weiner said police often see an increase in car break-ins and other crimes during the summer, but he said police aren't sure what has caused the recent spike.

"Some people say the economy; others say it's just easier than other things," Weiner said.

jnesbitt@thisweeknews.com