Signal Mountain Police have investigated more car thefts and burglaries in the last month than any other month this year. Chattanooga has also seen a spike in cases.

Detectives say it takes just a minute for a thief to get in your car and drive off. If the keys are in the car, it is just a matter of seconds.

There are two simple things you can do to protect your property: lock your car and hide valuables.

Detective Jim Tizzio with the Signal Mountain Police Department says car break-ins and thefts have been slightly higher this time of year compared to the same time last year.

He says it's typical for an increase in thefts around this time of year when the seasons are changing.

"From summer to fall and holidays coming up, it just seems like that's usually when it happens,” Tizzio tells us.

It doesn't take long for thieves to get what they're looking for when a car is unlocked.

Tizzio says, "It takes only one second, and they see that and boom your car is gone."

It usually happens between 1:00 and 4:00 in the morning, making it hard to identify the thieves and put a stop to it.

"A lot of people have cameras now in the night time and really we end up getting somebody with a hoodie on and hat and you really can't see,” he tells us.

There is something he says thieves are looking for.

"Want to warm the car up and stuff like that and go back inside and get their purse or coffee, whatever, and then they come out and they're like "I can't believe it, my car is gone!"

He wants the community to be mindful of this as we head into colder weather.

"If you're going to go out and warm your car up, use your key fob. Hopefully, you have it off the key or you have another key and start the car up and you want to warm it up and use the key fob to lock it,” Tizzio says.

The best way to prevent car burglaries and thefts is to lock your doors -- a simple step that Tizzio says is worth the effort.

He also says don't keep anything in sight. Purses, laptops, phones, keep it all hidden and locked away.