EAST AURORA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Police in several local communities are investigating a string of car thefts.

Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said if the trend continues, this type of crime will be up 200% for the year in the county.

In the past three weeks, six cars have been stolen in the village of East Aurora. 14 more have been broken into.

“We’ve never had a rash of car thefts to this extent, ever, that I’m aware of,” said East Aurora police chief Shane Krieger.

Krieger said all but one of the cars have been recovered. Every vehicle has been found in the city of Buffalo.

Valuables were taken from some of the cars.

“The night that three cars were stolen we’re fairly certain from the complaints and what the officers observed that there was a car with multiple people in it dropping people off throughout the village to go through different neighborhoods and look through the cars,” Krieger said.

He said Buffalo police are now handling the investigation and they haven’t charged anyone yet.

“Criminals are feeling a little more emboldened because of bail reform and they know they’re probably not gonna be if caught, they’re not going to be placed in the holding center at least not for a very long period so if it’s lucrative for them to do it, they’re gonna do it.”

This isn’t just happening in East Aurora.

Sheriff Garcia said the biggest increases are in Grand Island and Clarence.

“We tracked the data from January 1 to present and if we continue on with these numbers we’ll be up 200% in car thefts in the areas the Erie County Sheriff’s Office patrols,” he said.

The good news for car owners? He said this is 100% preventable.

“100% of the cases have been where people have accidentally left their car fobs or keys in the vehicle unlocked and people drive away,” he said. “Remember please to lock your vehicle and do not leave your car keys in the car.”

The sheriff said his office is working with federal partners to investigate whether this is an organized operation.

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Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.