249 reasons to lock your car at home


Where do most car break-ins happen in Fayette County? In Peachtree City and unincorporated areas of the county, thieves strike mostly vehicles parked at homes, while most Fayetteville cases occur while vehicles are parked at stores and businesses. And in most cases, the vehicles are unlocked.

A tally of the 249 automobile break-in cases across Fayette County during 2011 showed that over half of the those incidents came when the vehicle was unlocked. And whether an unlocked vehicle or a forced entry, the wide variety of items stolen ranged from computers and other electronic devices to handguns, cash and even a bottle of cologne.

Peachtree City led the way for entering auto cases in 2011. The city is home to approximately one-third of Fayette County’s 107,000 residents and it accounted for nearly 44 percent of those cases. Peachtree City had 109 entering auto cases during the year. Of those, the majority occurred at residences, not at shopping centers or public parking lots.

A breakdown of the cases showed that 70 of the 109 occurred when the vehicle was unlocked and/or the windows were down. Another 19 occurred when the vehicle was locked while in eight cases the mode of entry was undetermined. It was also noted that there were three cases where a catalytic converter was sawed off the vehicle.

So, if you are considering a New Year’s resolution, a good choice might be to make sure you lock your vehicle at home or when you are out and remember not to leave valuables in plain sight to tempt thieves.

The vehicles entered in Peachtree City provided a treasure trove for thieves. Among the items stolen were laptop computers, GPS units, briefcases, handguns, finance calculators, cell phones and chargers, cash, checkbooks, purses, wallets, house keys, credit and debit cards, cameras, lottery tickets, binoculars, radar detectors, satellite radios, iPods, duffle bags, handicap permits, computer bags, medication, clothing, shoes, tools, backpacks and a bottle of cologne.

Across unincorporated Fayette County there were 85 entering auto cases during the year. Though about one-third of the cases occurred at businesses or at recreational areas, the large majority occurred at residences.

A tally of the entering auto cases by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office during 2011 showed that 34 occurred when the vehicle was unlocked compared to the 25 that involved a forced entry when the vehicle was locked. It should be noted that some of the 34 cases could include items stolen from truck beds. The circumstances of the remaining 22 was unknown.

Fayetteville Police for 2011 reported 40 incidents of entering autos. Of those 27 occurred at business locations around the city.

A breakdown of the cases showed that 16 occurred when the vehicle was either unlocked had the windows rolled down. The vehicle was locked and broken into on another 20 cases while the mode of entry into four of the cases was undetermined.

Reports indicated that among the items stolen were 13 purses, three guns, three cell phones and three GPS units. Other items stolen included laptop computers, wallets, sunglasses and an iPod.

The Fayetteville statistics also noted that there was an attempt to steal the vehicle in five of the entering auto cases.

And in Tyrone there were 15 entering auto cases during the year. Of the 15 cases, nine vehicles were unlocked.

Reports note that four of the nine vehicles contained valuables that were in plain view. Items stolen included four purses, of which three of the four were in locked cars but in plain sight. Other stolen items included tools, medications, financial cards, identification documents, laptop computers, checks and a handicap placard.

Whether in municipalities or in the unincorporated areas, incidents of entering vehicles occur at residences, businesses, recreational areas and churches.

So what should be made of the 249 entering auto cases that occurred across Fayette County in 2011? For most people in law enforcement the answer is simple. Residents serious about not becoming a statistic should consider a few precautions that will lessen the probability.

First, lock your vehicle no matter where you are. It is only natural to take the path of least resistance, so for a thief this means that an unlocked vehicle is much more preferable, less time-consuming and will potentially draw less unwanted attention than than one that is locked.

Second, don’t leave valuables laying around in plain sight. Doing so might just provide the stimulus needed for someone with no regard for your property to steal it.