As reported on WWMT, the Branch County Sheriff's Office is investigating five vehicle thefts and several vehicle break-ins over the past week. Undersheriff Keith Eichler says that the problem has also stretched to Calhoun and St. Joseph Counties. He added that there's often an increase in car thefts and break-ins in the warmer months, and suggested for people to take simple steps to avoid becoming victims of car theft.

Here are five tips to avoid having your car stolen.

1. Never leave your keys inside the vehicle.

Even if your car is parked at your home or if you're pumping gas, you should always keep your keys with you.

2. Turn the car off when you're not inside.

If your car is running with the keys inside, it would be extremely easy for someone to steal it.

3. Don't keep valuable items in your car, or make sure they're out of sight.

Leaving your cell phone or wallet in plain sight may tempt people to break into your vehicle.

4. Keep all doors locked and windows closed when exiting your car.

Leaving windows down makes it easy to get into your car, even if you lock the doors.

5. Park smart.

Make an effort to park in well-lit areas, or within sight of security cameras on or near buildings.

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