This person was caught on surveillance footage looking through vehicles on Ashford Place in Festus.

This person was caught on surveillance footage looking through vehicles on Ashford Place in Festus.

Festus Police are investigating the theft of a car from outside a home on Iditarod Trail, as well as reports about a group of young men seen looking into vehicles and homes on Ashford Place, which also is in the southern part of town. It looked like at least one of the men was armed, Police Chief Tim Lewis said.

The incidents occurred overnight between Nov. 3-4, he said.

Lewis said a 2019 Nissan Altima car was stolen from a driveway in the 1900 block of Iditarod Trail.

“The victim works for Suntrup Nissan in St. Louis County and the car belongs to the dealer,” he said. “It was parked in the residence’s driveway about 9 p.m. Nov. 3. It was reported the next morning. It is not known how entry was gained.”

Lewis said the car was valued at about $24,000.

In addition, items were stolen from a vehicle on Ashford Place, he said.

“A person had his early-2000s GMC sports utility vehicle broken into and ransacked,” Lewis said. “It happened overnight Nov. 3-4. It is not known how entry was gained. It’s thought to be linked to the other crimes.”

Stolen items included electronics and a small amount of money, he said.

“(A homeowner) saw on video about 3 a.m. Nov. 4 what looked like a group of young men going car to car looking into vehicles,” Lewis said. “What was unsettling was one was clearly shown to have a gun. (Victims) called us regarding this about 4:30 p.m. that day after watching the video. Not only were they looking into cars, but also into some homes. We think it may be related to an (Imperial) incident where a guy was shot at.”

Lewis said the crime spree may be linked to a rash of similar offenses around the county committed by what authorities believe are coordinated groups from St. Louis coming here to steal from unlocked vehicles.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office reported that an Imperial man confronted a would-be thief outside his home in the Summerfield Parkside Estates subdivision off Seckman Road on Oct. 18 and was shot at three times. He was not struck by the shots.

Three days later Sheriff Dave Marshak issued an alert, warning county residents about what he said were organized groups from the St. Louis area targeting Jefferson County subdivisions.

Both Marshak and Lewis are urging residents not to leave valuables in their vehicles and to lock their vehicles since most of the thefts in the area have been from unlocked vehicles.

“They’re down here for a reason,” Lewis said. “We’re making ourselves easy marks by not locking cars and leaving stuff in them.”

Anyone with information is urged to call the Festus Police at 636-937-3646.