CBS4 Investigates: Stolen cars in Gainesville up nearly 200 percent in last 5 years


A few seconds is all it took.

Joshua Roe left his keys in his car last January while delivering supplies to people in need.

“I walked from the car to the house to set stuff down and was probably in there 10 to 15 seconds and I went back out there and the car was gone," Roe said.

The Gainesville Police Department said a teen riding a bike nearby saw the running car and snatched it.

When Roe tried to stop him the driver drove right at him.

“I walked down the road 30 meters and saw the car at the end of a dead-end road, they turned around and as they were leaving I turned and ran, they went off the road hit me ran over my body and left me there in the dirt bleeding,” Roe said.

Stolen cars have become a problem in Gainesville and it's only getting worse.

A CBS 4 You analysis, shows the number of stolen cars has increased nearly 200 percent, in just the last five years.

Detective Sergeant Nick Ferrara, said the rise in apartment complexes means more cars and scooters to steal.

“We try and monitor the numbers every week and monitor where the hot spots are but in my experience a lot of these thefts are attributed to unlocked cars and these are kids that are joyriding," Ferrara said.

Police say many of the thieves are in their teens.

Just last week a 15-year-old was arrested, after deputies say, she stole a car and crashed into a patrol car while trying to get away.

In Josh Roe's case, 16-year-old Kyyan Jackson was convicted of attempted manslaughter, grand theft, and leaving the scene of an accident.

He was sentenced to 18 months with credit for time served.

Jackson's set to be released next year.

“He had four different controlled substances in his system that night, any person in there right mind would know getting run over by a car would do significant damage if not kill you,” Roe said.

Nearly a year after the hit and run, Roe is still dealing with the aftermath.

“I’m still doing physical therapy, I just got back i go twice a week. I have about 50 percent of the use of my hand and no sensation on the out portion of my hand," Roe said.

Roe said he hopes others learn from this by not leaving your car unlocked, not even for a few seconds.

Ferrara said thieves rarely force entry into cars, “very rarely is there broken glass or forced entry most of the time it’s unlocked cars.”

Roe said the police department deserves more funding so more officers can patrol communities.

“Don’t steal cars, lock your cars up and fund our high quality police department so they can police communities that need to be policed," Roe said.

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