SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Many people are traveling over Memorial Day weekend, which means some are leaving their cars behind. The Springfield Police Department (SPD) said it’s important drivers don’t leave anything in their car, even trash.

“Even if you’ve taken everything with you, make sure that your car isn’t messy or cluttered,” SPD’s Public Affairs Officer Cris Swaters said. “If there’s trash all over the floor, you’ve got McDonald’s bags in there, someone walking past, they don’t know what’s underneath all the stuff that you’ve got, the clutter that’s in the car, until they’ve already damaged your car and rifled through.”

Swaters said on May 19, 25 cars were vandalized or broken into at Missouri State University (MSU).

Police responded to 921 Bear Boulevard around 3 a.m. Thursday. They found 16 cars had belongings missing, or damage at the parking lot across from Great Southern Bank Arena. At 4 a.m., police responded 533 Bear Boulevard, a few blocks west of the first incident. Police found nine cars had belongings missing or vandalism near an apartment complex. In total, 25 cars were impacted.

“It seems like it’s a lot being it’s two incidents with 25 cars impacted in two different parking lots,” Swaters said. “But that just emphasizes the importance of making sure that your vehicle is clean.”

Swaters said there are a few steps drivers can take to help prevent something like this from happening, like locking your doors.

“Any time you leave your car unattended somewhere, you want to make sure you leave it somewhere that’s well-lit,” Swaters said. “Just make sure [your car] is left somewhere where it’s just not by itself all the time. Always take your gym bag, your your laptop bag, your purse, your backpack, a diaper bag, a reusable lunch sack, anything that could indicate to somebody walking by that, oh, there may be something that I want to take in that vehicle.”

Swaters said it’s important to report any damage to your car so police can investigate.

“Take pictures, look around at the location that you’re at, and look and see if there are any other impacted vehicles,” Swaters said. “If you’re in an area where you see multiple vehicles impacted, you can always call 911 for an officer to respond. If there’s a trend in an area, we can’t know about that trend or identify that trend unless people tell us about it.”

Drivers can call 417-864-1810 Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. to report any damage. Drivers can also file a report on the City of Springfield’s website.