The Hilliard Division of Police is advising residents to never underestimate how quickly criminals can steal items left inside a vehicle.
"They (suspects) are inside and gone in 30 seconds," Sgt. Curtis Baker said.
Three cars were broken into in such rapid fashion June 9. Two were at the Hilliard-Ray Patch Family YMCA and one at the nearby Homestead Park, Baker said.
Thefts also are common in parking lots at day care centers, Baker said.
Day care centers are a target, Baker said, because thieves know it is likely that parents often leave valuables inside the vehicle when they drop off or pick up their children.
"But those few moments are more than enough," Baker said.
In some cases, victims make it easy by leaving a car unlocked, Baker said.
"So always lock your car," Baker said, even if it means having to take a few extra seconds to unlock the car upon returning.
Baker recommended taking valuables -- including purses, cellphones and electronics -- out of the vehicle or at least securing them out of sight.
The June 9 thefts from parking lots at the YMCA and Homestead Park have the attention of police because of the smash-and-grab method, carried out in less than a minute.
Baker said Hilliard police arrested two people in the spring in connection with a series of smash-and-grabs from vehicles and that those two individuals recently were released from jail.
There is no conclusive connection showing the two are responsible, Baker said, but officers have noticed the timing and has used the department's Facebook page to advise residents to lock vehicles and stow valuables.
"Remember thieves can be watching you for that moment of opportunity," Baker said.