Two Columbia County neighborhoods were the newest locations of a recent increase in car break-ins, according to police.
"It really started the week before Masters," Columbia County Sheriff's Investigator Nash Garrett said.
Since then, the sheriff's office responded to 17 car break-ins in West Lake alone, including seven late Sunday and early Monday, Garrett said.
Waterford subdivision, off Gibbs and Hereford Farm roads in Evans, was the most recent area of activity. Six residents reported break-ins late Monday to early Tuesday, according to Columbia County Sheriff's Office incident reports.
"You just can't leave anything in your car," Garrett said, adding that he believes a bad economy and high unemployment rates contribute to the increase. "Desperate times call for desperate measures and they are desperate."
Garrett said thieves also targeted vehicles off William Few Parkway last week.
Police do not believe the break-ins are done by one person or group, but several different groups. Some are targeting unlocked vehicles, while others are shattering windows to get inside the vehicles, Garrett said.
The thieves are stealing purses, wallets, and any kind of electronics, including laptop computers, cell phones, GPS units and cameras.
"If you value your treasures, don't leave them in your car," Garrett said, adding that the sheriff's office promotes the Lock It or Lose It campaign. The program promotes locking vehicles and not leaving valuables inside.
Even if the items are hidden under a seat or otherwise not visible, they are still at risk
"What we need the people to do is do not leave anything in their car," Garrett said.
Reach Valerie Rowell at (706) 868-1222, ext. 110, or