By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A string of stolen cars has many people on edge in Dundalk, Maryland, where nearly 15 vehicle thefts have been reported since the beginning of December.

Baltimore County Police are unsure whether it’s one individual or a group committing the crimes. The worst part: Authorities say most of the cases were easily avoidable as nearly all involved people who left their keys in the car while warming it up.

“All these thieves need is a good 10-15 seconds and they’ll take your car,” says Baltimore County Police Cpl. Shawn Vinson. “Some people think that they’re okay just leaving the car running there for 30 seconds or a minute, but there is somebody there lurking or waiting to jump in vehicle.”

According to police, thieves have swooped in at many different locations, from driveways to even leaving it running outside a grocery store, but have really honed in on the area off Liberty Parkway.

“Its terrible, especially when people are trying to provide for their families, trying to give them a good holiday and you got people out there like that,” says Tyler Brian of Dundalk.

The Liberty Parkway area is where Kimberly Muscelli says her car was broken into but not stolen.

“They took probably about $4,000 worth of things out of my car,” Muscelli said.

Police are reminding citizens how easy it is to avoid becoming a victim.

“I feel like you’re kind of asking for it if you leave your keys in the car or leave it unattended running,” Muscelli said.

Authorities also want residents to know it’s illegal — a state violation — to leave your car unattended while running.

Information on potential suspects have not yet been released.

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Rick Ritter