Want to stop auto burglaries? Lock doors

By BUSTER WOLFE,



Want to cut into the number of vehicle burglaries in the Hattiesburg area? One solution is simple: Lock your doors.

“It doesn’t matter if you are parked in the street, in your driveway, in your yard or even in your garage,” said Hattiesburg Police Public Information Officer Ryan Moore, “lock your vehicle.”

Summertime provides ample opportunities for the majority of auto burglary suspects – between 18 years old and early 20s, Moore said – to easily check for locked doors.

“It is very rare that people are looking to draw attention to themselves, so they will not smash a window,” Moore said. “They are looking for a quick grab. It only takes a few seconds to go along a line of cars and check the door handles.”

If the car owner leaves something in plain sight that could be valuable, a burglar is going to check to see if the car is locked. According to figures from the past two months, they have been quite successful.

In May, 27 cars were burglarized; 23 were unlocked. The numbers for June are staggering – of the 62 auto burglaries for the month, 51 vehicles were not locked.

“They will take anything that even looks of value,” Moore said. “We’ve seen purses, jewelry, firearms, cologne, clothes, backpacks and just about everything. In one burglary, they took the change out of the change holder. The overwhelming reason is that burglars are just window shopping.”

Firearms are a special item for auto burglars.

“One simple thing is to not leave a weapon in a vehicle unlocked,” Moore said. “If someone gets a gun out of a vehicle, there’s a good chance it is going to be used in another crime down the road. It’s almost like a magnet for burglars.”

Moore said the Police Department has stepped up enforcement to identify and arrest vehicle burglary suspects.

“We have ramped up the bicycle patrols at night,” he said, adding that apartment complexes are prime areas for auto burglaries. “We have additional details in areas that have more auto burglaries. We have also seen some success with our bait car.”

Residents that have video surveillance of their property have also helped the police, Moore said.

“So many people have video today,” he said. “We are trying to get those records together so that we can identify these suspects.”

One recent burglary suspect who was apprehended by Hattiesburg Police officers was Antonio Wright, 44, of Hattiesburg. Moore said he was arrested in the 100 block of Broadway Drive.

“Sometimes we get suspects who don’t fit the ‘norm’ for auto burglary suspects,” Moore said. “It’s usually just someone trying to make a quick score.”