Protect yourself from influx of car break-ins

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Lock the doors and keep your cell phone with you. Car break-ins have increased across Richmond County, and police want to make sure people are doing their best to protect their belongings.

There were about 350 car break-ins in Richmond County last month - 150 more than in January 2006.

"With all the apartment buildings and shopping centers, it's a virtual buffet of cars out there," said Richmond County sheriff's Sgt. Ken Eskew. "It happens all the time."

Investigators said the number of car break-ins ebbs and flows throughout the year, depending on a number of factors. Holidays can contribute to them, as can weather. But in many cases it's simply the luck of the draw.

"It really seems to come and go in spurts," said Lt. Tony Walden, who oversees the property-crimes division of the sheriff's office. He said investigators look for hot spots, or areas where several break-ins occur over time, and then "attack" it vigorously through patrols and investigations.

That is the case with the Family Y's Wheeler Road location, where Lt. Walden has assigned two investigators to backtrack through all the car break-ins of the past three months and look for leads that might have been missed on the first go-round.

Still, investigators admit it's often difficult to acquire evidence. Sgt. Eskew said the plastic, vinyl and cloth in modern cars make it difficult to lift usable fingerprints. And with few investigators available to respond to the hundreds of reported break-ins the department receives in a year, most of the responsibility for finding evidence falls on the deputy who responds, Lt. Walden said.

The number of break-ins is disappointing but not unexpected, said Sgt. Eskew.

"You might as well just leave it unlocked and put a sign there - valuables, please take," he said. " If you leave all these things in plain view, why are you shocked when they're not there? I say if you leave them in plain view, you should be shocked that they're still there when you get back."

People should also record the serial numbers of electronics and other valuables in a notebook so that investigators can track them if they are stolen, Sgt. Eskew said.

Investigators also say not to disturb the crime scene before a deputy investigates.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

PROTECT YOURSELF


Investigators say the simplest way to prevent a car break-in is to not leave valuable items, such as money or cell phones, where thieves can see them. If your car is broken into, investigators say to:


- Avoid touching or moving anything. The car is a crime scene, and you could disturb evidence that may help catch the thief.


- If your credit cards or cell phone is stolen, cancel the account immediately and monitor billing statements for fraudulent charges. Investigators may be able to track the charge back to the thief.


- Keep a notebook with serial numbers of your valuables. That may help if the item is found or pawned.

Sources: Lt. Tony Walden, Sgt. Ken Eskew, Richmond County Sheriff's Office


RICHMOND COUNTY CAR BREAK-INS


2,900: Total in 2006


380: Total from Jan. 1 through Wednesday


350: Total in January


200: Total in January 2006


* All numbers are approximate Source: Investigator Keith McGarity, Richmond County Sheriff's Office

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msbehavin853
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msbehavin853 02/08/07 - 11:29 am
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I have had my car broken into

I have had my car broken into twice in the past year at my residence, they did not even discuss taking of finger prints. I was however informed that another brake in happened on the next street at the same time. Worse yet, I even told the officer that I thought I knew who it was because this person was actually caught in several vehicles...after looking at the police report, there was no mention of this person. She still walks up and down the street looking for more things to steal. I understand my things are not that important, however...if the decided to investigate they would have found out that this is also a local drug user as well as dealer.

Additional Info
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Additional Info 02/08/07 - 12:23 pm
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I work in downtown Augusta.

I work in downtown Augusta. Three employees in our office have had their vehicles broken into in the last 3-4 months during the day. Best suggestion is not to leave anything visible. Also, they seem to target older vehicles they know won't have an alarm. Even leaving change in the console seemed important enough for them to break in an steal.

whereohwhere
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whereohwhere 02/08/07 - 06:02 pm
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I agree...the police won't do

I agree...the police won't do anything. The person that broke into and stole my vehicle was caught with all my belongings, which thankfully I got back, but the truck was long gone, but the person responsible was never arrested. I was told that he wasn't charged because they were hoping he could lead them to the "bigger fish", and was supposedly under surveillance. What a joke!!! Nothing was ever done about this.

Frank
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Frank 02/08/07 - 09:17 pm
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"You might as well just leave

"You might as well just leave it unlocked and put a sign there - valuables, please take," he said. " If you leave all these things in plain view, why are you shocked when they're not there? I say if you leave them in plain view, you should be shocked that they're still there when you get back."

So it's my fault that someone stole what I worked for? That is the same mind that says it's a woman's fault she gets raped because she wore a slightly revealing blouse, or a skirt. Of course that would be right on par with most of Richmond County's Neanderthal Service.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 02/08/07 - 10:34 pm
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I know of 3 car break in's 2

I know of 3 car break in's 2 robberys and hit n run in the past 2 week. None of them made it to the paper and nobody was cought. There is alot going on that should be printed in the paper.

chinagrace
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chinagrace 02/08/07 - 10:59 pm
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I caught someone breaking

I caught someone breaking into my best friend's car once when she and I worked downtown. Since the same thing had happened to me a month before, something in me snapped and I just jumped him and him half naked before he wrestled away. Police were called; nothing happened.
My house was burglarized on December 19 this past year. A piece of broken glass had fingerprints on it, but when I asked about lifting them, I was told that fingerprints on juveniles weren't taken or kept. The assumption that the crook was juvenile was exactly that: an assumption. It wouldn't have hurt to have them on file just "in case", especially since I found out from neighbors that there had been two other thefts in the neighborhood that same month. It's ridiculous.
But, considering what police are paid, I'm not exactly surprised that there's such a shortage. I wouldn't do that job. I will say, though, the police aren't the only folks in my neighborhood these days who are packing.

E-less
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E-less 02/09/07 - 12:09 am
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My husband's vehicle was

My husband's vehicle was broken into twice last year, both times downtown while he was working. Strangely enough, we had a witness come forward saying a specific person had our stuff, bragged about stealing it, and when reported to RCPD, nothing was done. In addition, there was surveillance taken by an apartment building that was right next to where my husband worked at the time. Their cameras overlooked the employee parking. Yet, once again, with someone specifically saying such person broke into the car, lived in that apartment building, and surveillance was known to be taken, nothing happened... well nothing except our car being stripped of a stereo system, a gps system (which my husband used for work), and my husband's work materials. Yeah, whoever stole from us left NOOOO trace whatsoever...

My vehicle was also broken into at our apartment... but only after they had busted open my hood to cut the siren out. Ironically enough, there had been a break in the night before and when I reported it to my apartment office, they played it off as if nothing ever happened there EVER.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 02/09/07 - 12:59 am
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4th floor of the Marble

4th floor of the Marble Palace. Get off the elevator and go right. Fill out the forms and go down to 401 walton way monday or wed from 8:30 till 11 and get your finger prints done. Then wait 3 months and you will have a weapons permit. Get one you need one! The only way to stop the underage kids today breaking in and robbing at gun point is to shoot first then ask questions. Someone pulls a gun on me i'm gonna shoot em!

missyt66
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missyt66 02/09/07 - 07:07 am
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I hear you FedupwithAUG. My

I hear you FedupwithAUG. My family and I are planning on relocating to Augusta very soon. I told them that, as we drive from the Midwest, we all should be armed. Has Augusta thought about implementing a curfew? It's amazing just how much money has gone into the Iraq War, and yet honest people in this country are constantly are being victimized. Apparently, the violence isn't reaching the decision-makers. If Politicians feared each night that their car or home would be broken into, how much would they push for increasing the police force? I bet they would find money from somewhere to put more officers on the street. I wished someone would come up with something real soon. I would love to have a wonderful life in Augusta or anywhere else for that matter.

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