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Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS - Thieves are quietly hitting the lakefront area while everyone is sleeping, last week hitting several unlocked cars in Lake Vista.

Eyewitness News has exclusive video of the criminals. Now the NOPD explains why they had no record of the crimes.

The Shreves family always locks their cars at night, except one night last week.

'You feel so violated. You feel so violated to know that somebody has been right in your, literally underneath the spotlight,' said Lake Vista homeowner Jackie Shreves, who became a victim.

She turned to their just-installed camera system when her husband noticed someone had been in his car. And there it was, three men going through the front, back and trunk at 3:47 a.m. One was armed.

'Finally I realize as he was leaving, he goes like this, and it was a gun he was holding the whole time,' said Shreves, showing one of the men on the video put the gun he had in his hand into his shirt pocket.

Word spread through neighbors and the security patrol that four others were hit on Heron Street and even more, one block over on Gull Street.

And on Wren Street, about a dozen blocks away, they also heard from neighbors and the patrol that they had auto break-ins as well.

One neighborhood over from Lake Vista, Lake Terrace, is seeing car and home burglaries in spurts as well.

'They are taking the things they see and that's one of the things we hear from police all the time, don't leave things that look like they're valuable,' said Tom Bagwill, president of the Lake Terrace Crime Prevention District.

Police have no reports on these crimes. Some victims never call.

When NOPD met with Shreves, her husband had the car out. Police called back at 12:30 a.m., but no one heard the phone while sleeping.

'So now when you look at crime stats, we look like we're really no problem out here, and we have a lot of problems out here,' Shreves said.

Police say it's the victims who have to call back to make sure a report is filed. They encourage everyone to report burglaries.

In fact, NOPD says officers made six arrests in May and June of groups from New Orleans East and the Ninth Ward for similar crimes in the area.

'Some of the cases we've made, we have videos, and you can see it's four or five guys. They going down the street hitting every car, and the only ones they target are the unlocked ones,' said Commander Gary Marchese of the NOPD Third District.

After that, there was a decline until now.

'They look at areas of the Third District, Lakeview as real easy targets. Nobody locks their doors and they leave valuables,' Marchese said.

He said criminals also look for valet keys in the glove compartment so they can steal the car. It is also wise not to leave your garage door remote in the car because then they would have access into your house.

Police will now use the home video to investigate this latest rash of car burglaries.

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