WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Wallingford has seen a dramatic increase in stolen vehicles this year, but an old school way may be able to prevent more.

Ann Elmkies used to leave the keys in her unlocked car overnight. She’d even start her car on cold winter mornings and leave it running.

“Years ago, we used to do it in a big apartment complex, when you couldn’t even see the car from the apartment,” Elmkies said.

Then, someone broke into her neighbor’s vehicle. Now, she stays locked up.

It’s something that Wallingford police are urging people to do after 24 vehicles have been stolen this year — 17 more than last year, and a 243% increase from 2022.

“When we’ve had a few of those super cold winter mornings, it’s like, do I start my car, or do I take a chance?” said Beth Shinkevich, of Cheshire. “It’s terrible, but I have thought about that before, absolutely.

Police also recommend removing keys from cars, taking expensive items out, consider installing security cameras, add a remote starter kit and to never leave a car running with the keys inside.

Another option is The Club, a product that goes on the steering wheel that will prevent thieves trying to take off with your car from turning the wheel all the way.

Police said it could be an affordable option to help prevent theft.

It’s something that Shinkevich is now considering.

“That’s a really good idea,” she said.