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Smash and grab auto break-ins on increase in Fayette

There are increasing reports across Fayette County of motorists having their vehicles entered and items stolen. Responding to the entering auto cases, Sheriff Barry Babb cautioned residents to always lock their vehicles and never leave valuables in plain sight.

There have been 114 reported entering auto incidents across Fayette County and its municipalities during the first half of 2014.

The sheriff’s office reported 54 incidents of entering auto in the unincorporated areas of Fayette between Jan. 1 and June 20.

Of the 54 cases, 13 occurred in northwest Fayette, seven occurred in north central Fayette and seven occurred in northeast Fayette while 16 occurred in the southwest portions of the county and 10 in the southeast.

The entering auto cases in the unincorporated areas showed 19 occurring in the evening hours, 18 in the day time hours while the time of day in the remaining cases was unknown.

Fayetteville had 18 entering auto cases for the calendar year as of late June.

Peachtree City had 36 incidents between January and the end of May.

Tyrone had six incidents as of late June.

As those from law enforcement agencies across Fayette County have stressed on numerous occasions, motorists should never leave their vehicles unlocked and should never leave valuables in plain sight.

“The best defense is keeping everything out of sight or locking items in the trunk, center console or glove box. Perpetrators want to grab and go,” said Babb. “They enter your unlocked vehicle in your driveway, use a tool to slip under your door handle in some makes to unlock it, or break your door glass.”

Those who frequent gyms, daycare centers and recreation areas should be particularly aware of the potential for thefts.

“Our repeat locations are daycare centers, parks and recreation centers and gyms,” Babb cautioned. “Why? Because that’s where ladies leave the purse in the car because they don’t need it with them.”

For those intent on theft, the items visible in a vehicle can serve as a magnet.

“Your property is being targeted in your vehicle because that is where we leave items criminals want — like Mp3 players, smart phones, tablets, GPS units and firearms,” said Babb. 

Babb said another issue comes into play when a vehicle theft occurs — the occasional lack of awareness that theft has occurred.

“Some vehicles are ridiculously simple (to enter) with just a screwdriver. It damages your locking system but your keyless remote will still work and we have had victims go days without knowing their firearm was missing from their vehicle and couldn’t tell us when and where it was taken,” Babb said. “We have seen teenagers go throughout their own neighborhood trying door handles during the night and taking from unlocked vehicles. It’s not just someone from outside your neighborhood targeting you.”

Babb said thefts from vehicles is a growing trend across metro Atlanta and is driving up every agency’s theft numbers, including those in Fayette. In some cases it is an individual thief operating alone, while, in other cases, the thefts are the efforts of organized groups, including those from other states.

Though pawn shops are moving away from taking cell phones, Babb said stolen phones and tablets are not always disposed of locally.

“Some make it all the way out of our country,” said Babb. “Developing countries will activate phones stolen from the U.S. bringing a top dollar there. It doesn’t matter to foreign carriers.”

Babb said one of the new ordinances his office is spearheading is an “interference with a parked car” ordinance.

“It gives deputies a county ordinance to work with if we witness someone looking into multiple autos and pulling door handles on parked cars. Metropolitan areas have been using this with success,” Babb said.

Babb said deputies sometimes witness this at activities such as high school football games but will not see an actual theft. Such an ordinance will give deputies enforcement powers that state law will not provide, said Babb.

Yet another way to combat the rise in entering auto cases is to get the word out, said Babb.

“We call it the clean car campaign,” he said. “Take it, hide it or lock it away — don’t display your valuables. I wish our valuables were safe in our autos, but until we learn to not give prying eyes an opportunity we will lose our property.”



The newspaper says there are twice as many car break-ins in PTC as there are in Fayetteville and you have nothing to say. Crickets . . .

Lots of places for people to recreate etc..equals a lot of opportunity...

Do you even realize the population differences between the 3 cities referenced? Per capita, PTC appears to be the lowest of the 3. I will let you do the math.

There are more Recreational areas and Gyms in PTC, plus higher incomes. If you are going to bother would you break into a 1989 Chevy or a 2012 BMW to look for items worth stealing?

I'm sure balaclava wearing white guys are the culprits.

There is a strong correlation with "Summer Break" from school... and "Breaking Into Autos". Certainly in the commercial shopping areas with traffic from other areas, there are the "professionals" that hit cars selectively. But I would bet many of the break-in's are in residential areas... THOSE ARE USUALLY YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD KIDS/THUGS. And that crimewave typically ends when schools reopen. Not sure any amount of aggressive patrolling will stop that. LOCK your cars... DON'T leave valuables in plain sight. This is not rocket science.


You totally took the bait! Blaming out of county people, not to mention the arrogant comment about being a more affluent community with more valuable items to steal. That is funny, but sad at the same time. The person who referenced increased crime during school vacation is probably correct. Those would be your own little darlings who live in your city and are bored during summer break.

We get it...

Trying to figure out your angle here. I brought up other Counties, so why don't you list for me the adjoining Counties to Fayette that have lower crime rates....

Frankly I think Fayette Co in general is a great place to live, that said, lock your car.

Too nice outside for this anymore...pool time, and Go Braves!

I was an advanced placement math student in the Fayette County School System. The angle is: PTC bloggers always blaming crime on people from outside PTC/Fayette County.

Rest assured that many of the perps are from out of County. Again, look for yourself.

And yes, it did/does appear that you do not understand what "crime rate" means. Based strictly on your comments about the numbers of reported break ins you mentioned earlier.

Also, why not reply directly to the comment you are addressing? Makes the thread flow better....

Anyways, time for a beverage. :)

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