Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – It’s cold and you want your car to warm up before you drive to work, but St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson says car thieves are going shopping for free cars on these cold mornings.

“I know it’s cold outside, and I know everybody likes to get into a warm car, but criminals know that if a car is running, more than likely, there’s a set of keys in it,” Dotson says. “And those are great targets for people … to steal cars.”

The chief spoke at the roll call for hot-spot policing in south St. Louis.

Extra police will be patrolling the Dutchtown and Gravois Park areas to discourage daytime burglaries, robberies and people stealing cars left idling to warm up.

Last year in Dutchtown, overall crime was up 6.7 percent. There were 62 armed robberies, eight murders, 228 assaults, 368 burglaries and some 200 cars stolen.

Dotson hopes the flood of extra officers will concentrate by day on burglaries and car thefts. At night, they’ll keep an eye out for robberies and assaults.

He told officers during a morning roll call to get out of their patrol cars and connect with the public, to show initiative and make arrests where there is probable cause.

The chief says two similar hot-spot surges earlier this year – one in north St. Louis, the other in the West End – resulted in more than 160 arrests and the confiscation of 20 guns.

Dutchtown Alderman Shane Cohn praised the effort.

“There’s definitely been an uptick in burglaries, drug dealing and prostitution,” Cohn said. “I think hot-spot policing is an effective tool for increasing visibility and patrolling neighborhoods.”

The area under heavy patrol is bounded by Jefferson and Broadway on the east, Walsh on the south, Grand on the west and Potomac on the north.

(TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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