The routine crime of “car clouting,” stealing items from vehicles, can cost a victim thousands of dollars and drain a neighborhood of its sense of tranquillity, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It’s the crime most likely to touch St. Louis-area residents, but it’s one that many police agencies traditionally spent little time investigating. “The only way a police department can do anything about this crime is to go proactive,” said Maryland Heights, Mo., Police Chief Tom O’Connor. “You can’t wait until they hit you to put out a detail of officers. Sometimes you have to stretch your resources.”
No one recalls where the term originated, but clout means to hit, especially with a fist. Many times thieves do break windows. But the best of them bring skill with tools that move swiftly and may leave little or no damage to the car. St. Louis police took reports of about 18,600 thefts from vehicles in the city last year. That’s 51 car cloutings a day, or about one for every 18 city residents – although a significant number of victims are visitors from elsewhere.