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 in 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."

Weiner could not give exact figures on the percentage increase.

Police often see an increase in car break-ins and other crimes during the summer, he said, but they 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.

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

"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."

One way to keep residents aware is to remain in contact with neighbors.

In this area, the German Village Society's Neighbors 4 Neighbors online newsletter has been used in such a manner. The letter is e-mailed to about 2,000 people each time it is sent.

"We don't need to know about every stolen pot, but if you are noticing a pattern let us know," said Erin O'Donnell, executive director for the society. "It's those patterns we have to be aware of."

O'Donnell urged residents to call police after all incidents, no matter the size.

In related news, there have been several incidents of high profile crimes in the past several weeks, including two robberies at a local store.

The Starbucks at 650 S. Third St. was robbed twice within a seven-day period, once the morning of June 12 and again June 18.

The Starbucks was robbed by a man with a pump shotgun shortly after opening at about 6 a.m. July 12, according to police reports.

A second robbery occurred sometime between 7 and 7:18 a.m. June 18, when an unknown man entered the building armed with a shotgun, according to police.

In addition, at about 1 a.m. June 12 at the corner of Mohawk and East Whittier streets, someone was robbed by a man with a "sawed-off gun," according to police.

Police also reported a woman was assaulted with a bottle at about midnight June 3 at Schiller Park.