Rocky Mount police are urging residents to double check that their cars are locked as officers respond to a rash of vehicle break-ins.
“Many residents have the misconception their car was locked, but there is no evidence of forced entry or damage to the vehicle, so it had to have been unlocked,” Community Resource Officer Brad Summerlin said. “They’ll use their key fob to lock their car, but they don’t wait to see or hear the click of the lock. If you don’t see or hear the lock activate, your car isn’t necessarily locked.”
Authorities said they’ve seen an increase in teenagers and suspects in their 20s going through neighborhoods and checking to see what cars have been left unlocked.
“If the car is unlocked, they’ll go in and take any valuables they see,” he said. “They are leaving cars that are locked alone and targeting the next one that is unlocked.”
Rocky Mount police recently worked with officers in Raleigh and Greensboro to shut down one such ring of thieves, charging four men with ties to Rocky Mount with more than 60 felony and misdemeanor charges related to thefts dating back to January with more charges expected.
The suspects stole small electronics such as GPS units and cellphones, purses, jewelry, money and firearms. Summerlin said many residents keep guns in the center consoles of cars and when owners don’t have serial numbers, it is nearly impossible for the weapons to be recovered.
“More often than not, victims do not have the serial numbers for their property, so we are really pushing people to make an inventory of their valuables,” Summerlin said. “If you have a list of the serial numbers along with any owner-applied markings and the property gets pawned, the investigators have a place to start investigating the case.”
He said thefts often have little physical evidence, so having an inventory of property increases the solvability of the incidents.
An engraver can be checked out from the police department for free by contacting Summerlin at 972-1466 or Community Services Supervisor Yvette Jones at 972-1436. For property that cannot be engraved – such as heirloom jewelry – a photograph should be taken and kept in a secure location with a copy of a list of other valuables.
“Do not leave valuables in vehicles overnight. Make sure you secure them inside your residence because most of these car break-ins are occurring overnight,” Summerlin said. “Also, make sure you keep your home’s doors and windows secured, close the blinds, get your mail and newspapers everyday. Do not use a routine, but vary it to give the appearance that someone is home all the time.”
Being a good witness for neighbors and friends is equally important, he said.
“Be a vigilant citizen,” Summerlin said. “If you see something suspicious or out of place, notify us immediately, so we can investigate further and determine if something is going on.”
Contact Crime Stoppers at 977-1111 or email@example.com or in an emergency, call 911 to report criminal activity.
Be proactive by going to http://www.rockymountnc.gov/police/prevention.html to download a property inventory and learn about other crime prevention tips.