Auto thefts on the rise in Highlands Ranch neighborhoods

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HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. -- The Douglas County Sheriff's Office said auto thefts are on the rise in Highlands Ranch neighborhoods.

A spokesman for the sheriff's office said investigators believe the criminals are teenagers.

The organized group drives to Highlands Ranch and canvases the neighborhoods. The spokesman said about 75 percent of the cars that are broken into are unlocked, while the rest of incidents happen in locked cars. She said criminals also target open garages.

Whitney Nagy and her husband woke up to an alarming visit from deputies Friday morning.

"They asked us where our 2011 Subaru Forester was. And my husband said it's in the driveway. And he said I was just on a high-speed chase with it," Nagy said.

The deputies told Nagy it's called "going shopping."

"There is these certain groups of gangs, or groups of people that get together, come down to Highlands Ranch and they call it 'going shopping.' So they look for cars that have GPS's, purses, and then they'll break in and steal a car," Nagy said.

Nagy just purchased her white 2011 Subaru Forester in July. She said the criminals didn't just steal her car, they also stole her sense of security.

"I'm terrified that within feet of my family sleeping is someone breaking into my vehicle in my driveway. It definitely makes me feel vulnerable," Nagy said.

Nagy has taken to Facebook in hopes of alerting people to be on the lookout for this kind of activity as well as her car.

"They aren't just stealing your Christmas decorations and packages off your porch. They're taking your family car," Nagy said.

The sheriff's office spokesman said even if you feel like you live in a safe neighborhood, always get in the habit of removing valuables from your car, locking it and closing your garage.