Rash of car thefts at Seneca Park Zoo

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — There has been a rash of car thefts and break-ins in the parking lots at the Seneca Park Zoo over the last few weeks. Ten separate vehicles have been stolen or broken into over the course of the last three weeks, triggering Rochester Police and Monroe County Park Police to increase patrols in the area.

“It’s an unfortunate situation; you go to visit the park or you go to visit the zoo and you come out and your vehicle is gone,” says RPD Lt. Greg Bello. “Typically you’re there with children, and to not have a vehicle with your children there is certainly frustrating for those who have had their car stolen.”

In some cases would-be thieves have smashed out the windows of cars but then left them when they proved to be too much of a hassle to take.

In all the cases so far, there’s been a common denominator: “Typical to Rochester, they’ve all been Kias and Hyundais” says Lt. Bello.

Rochester Police are still looking for the thieves themselves. “We’ve been working with Monroe County Public Safety from the zoo and reviewing security camera footage,” Lt. Bello explains, but he’s urging everyone who drives a Kia or Hyundai to use a steering wheel lock to deter theft.

In two of the cases, the families who were visiting the zoo when their cars were stolen weren’t from Rochester. So, they had to find an alternate way home to Buffalo and Syracuse with their kids. One mom told News10NBC her car was recovered a few days later but everything of value inside was gone.

“Our Clinton section supervisors are aware of this trend,” explains Lt. Bello. “They’ve assigned the officers to patrol the Seneca Park Zoo areas extra with the beat cars that are down there to help maintain some safety for the people that are attending the zoo and attending the park.”

In a statement, a spokesman for Monroe County tells News10NBC, “Both the Monroe County departments of Public Safety and Parks are aware of the thefts and are coordinating with the Rochester Police Department on the investigation. There are additional security resources deployed to the area, both security cameras and personnel. We are asking the public to call 911 immediately if they see something suspicious.”