Officials with the Monett Police Department and Barry County Sheriff's Department are working together to solve a rash of vehicle thefts taking place in the county.
Monett Police Chief Tim Schweder said he and Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly have discussed the recovery of a number of vehicles that have been stolen from the Monett and Barry County area and later stripped and burned.
"We have had 19 vehicles stolen in Monett since Jan. 1, 2011," Schweder said. "That's an increase of five over last year for the same time period."
Barry County has suffered a similar increase in vehicle thefts, about 10 for the same time period.
"We're finding these burned vehicles in or around the area," Schweder said. "The key element for all of these crimes is that the keys have been left in the ignition or on the floorboard of the vehicle, making it easy for thieves to take.
"Often, victims are reporting that the vehicles have been stolen from their own driveway, garage or carport," he continued. "Thieves are coming that close to residents to commit these crimes."
Schweder said his department has received more than one report of a vehicle stolen on the same night.
"It appears that they are doing this for fun," Schweder said.
The Barry-Lawrence Chapter of Crime Stoppers offers rewards of up to $1,000 for tips that lead to the arrest of those wanted for felony crimes.
Anyone having information on these crimes is urged to call 354-TIPS (8477) or toll-free at 1-888-635-TIPS (8477). Tipsters may remain anonymous.
Tips may also be submitted through the Barry-Lawrence Crime Stoppers website at www.blcrimestoppers.com. Web-based tips are ineligible for a reward.