The Wake County Sheriff’s Office and other local law enforcement agencies say they are dealing with a rash of crime that could be easily prevented if people would simply lock their car doors.
The crime is “breaking or entering a motor vehicle,” and more often than not it is the “enter” part that applies. The thieves prefer the nice, easy task of taking valuables left in sight in an unlocked car or truck.
“Over the past few weeks several residents, particularly on the south and east sides of the county, have discovered items stolen from their cars overnight,” Wake sheriff’s spokesman Capt. James Stevens said in a statement last week. “In most cases the vehicles were at residences in rural subdivisions and were left unlocked.”
Sheriff Donnie Harrison estimates his deputies had been called to investigate 90 to 100 such incidents in July and August.
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Raleigh police last month reported about 185 larcenies from motor vehicles, with a high of 23 on Aug. 11. That’s up from 144 motor vehicle larcenies during the same period last year, police records show.
It’s not clear what portion of the Raleigh thefts were from unlocked cars or trucks, but spokeswoman Laura Hourigan echoed the request for people to hide or remove valuables and lock their car doors. Thefts from cars have been most prevalent in the Raleigh Police Department’s north district in August.
Wake Forest police also put out an alert last week, urging people to remove valuables from their cars and lock their car doors. The department regularly receives reports of thefts from unlocked vehicles, said town spokesman Bill Crabtree.
Criminals will target a particular neighborhood and go from car door to car door to find unlocked ones, Crabtree said.
“Most of the break-ins in our area involve vehicles that were unlocked and show no sign of forced entry,” he said. “In many instances, the owner left valuables such as GPS devices, electronics equipment, iPods, handbags, cash, cell phones, computers and weapons visible to the thieves.”
The Wake County Sheriff’s Office asks that anyone who observes suspicious vehicles or people in their community or who has information about the motor vehicle larcenies to call 919-856-6800.
Harrison also noted that if owners find their car has been gone through, but little or nothing seems to have been taken, they still should report it.
Police and deputies with the City County Bureau of Investigation to gather evidence from all the crime instances. Physical evidence from what seems like a minor incident could give investigators information they need to begin making arrests.