MADISON (WKOW) -- As car thefts continue to rise in Madison, one Madison man says his new car was stolen before he even got to drive it home.
Tyler Nelson and his wife went to a local dealership to buy the new car in January. Nelson says a salesman at the dealership took the car out, to fill it up with gas, while the couple signed paperwork.
When he returned, he left the vehicle running outside of the dealership. Turns out, someone else had been watching that car.
"My wife, she heard in the background 'oh we have a problem,'" Nelson said. "We go out to get the keys from him, and get the car, and go home and then… there's nothing there."
A car thief had jumped into the car, and had driven off in it.
"I thought it was a joke," Nelson said. "It was just so crazy."
According to records from the Madison Police Department, vehicle thefts have been increasing over the past couple of years.
In 2019, Madison police reported 639 motor vehicle thefts. In 2020, that number rose to 744.
"These are crimes of opportunity. You take away the opportunity you take away the crime," said Kim Richman, leader of the Buckeye Grove Neighbor Project.
The organization tries to prevent vehicle thefts, by promoting neighborhood safety. Richman spends a lot of his time posting memes to the group's Facebook page, and crafting signs, to post around his neighborhood.
"The goal is to do exactly what [the signs] say," Richman said. "Is your garage door closed? Turn on your exterior lights. Lock your house and car. It's all a part of the 9 p.m. routine."
Richman says the "9 p.m. routine" is an initiative to push people to get into the routine of taking certain safety measures every night before they go to bed. The routine suggests neighbors close their garage door, turn on exterior lights, and lock their house and car.
It's advice with which people like Nelson agree. After his new car was stolen off the lot, he and his wife were able to get a similar vehicle, from another dealership. He says he's learned his lesson.
"Just be vigilant about keeping your car locked down," Nelson said.