LPD reminds people to lock their cars

Published 6:19 pm Friday, November 24, 2017

During the holiday season, theft and property crime typically always rises. The LaGrange Police Department has several tips to prevent break-ins this year, starting with a simple one — locking your car.

Lt. Dale Strickland with the LaGrange Police Department said the majority of car break-ins that occur in LaGrange happen on unlocked vehicles.

“I think our significant problems are that we have a bunch of unlocked cars and most of the time, people walk through parking lots, pulling door handles until they find a car that’s unlocked. They go in those cars and take whatever’s available,” Strickland said. “Maybe change, maybe a purse that was left in there, wallets, but most of the entering autos that we have here in town are entering autos that occurred on unlocked vehicles.”

There have been several hot spots this year, including a strip on Lafayette Parkway near Interstate 85. There are several restaurants and hotels in that area, and there has been an average of more than one car break-in a month in that area.

And that’s the break-ins that are reported. Others are likely not reported and people don’t notice that anything is missing.

“More times than not we have experienced those break-ins in the parkway near the interstate to be locked vehicles and they either break the windows out or they actually punch the locks,” Strickland said. “I guess it depends on the criminal. I guess the ones that are punching locks are a little more prepared, and they’re planning to do what they need to do versus the younger juvenile group walking around pulling door handles until they find a door handle to a car that’s unlocked and take stuff.”

Strickland said there have been 14 incidents between Nov. 20, 2016 and Nov. 20, 2017 in the Longhorn Steakhouse parking lot, but other areas along Lafayette Parkway have been consistently hit as well.

“It appears to be a target rich environment and I say that as people go there and eat dinner, and there are a lot of cars to chooses from [Lafayette Parkway]. At times, we’ve had the same issue at [some of the restaurants] and those hotels over there,” Strickland said.

“We have been in part of an investigation where we’ve caught people in those same areas committing entering autos.”

Strickland said that these suspects will get off the interstate, go to the closest hotel and restaurant parking lots to look for items to take from vehicles, enter and take items from the cars and then go back on the interstate to the next exit.

“We’ve already been able to tell though this investigation that this group or these people responsible had to get other places back toward Atlanta of the interstate too,” he said.

“They had a similar type of incidents where restaurants, the doors are punched and items are stolen from cars while the patrons are inside.”

The LPD has increased patrols in the area near restaurants and hotels on Lafayette Parkway and are remaining vigilant, according to Strickland.

But the easiest way to prevent people from entering your vehicle, Strickland said is to lock your car and hide valuables that are in there.

“If [suspects] see valuables lying on the seats, with the holiday season coming, I know people do shopping and then leave those items and boxes laying around where it’s easily seen,” he said.

“Put those in the trunks of your vehicles or under the seats where it’s not obvious to a thief that there’s things of values that they can steal if they break in to your car.”

Additionally, shoppers should park in places with lighting, and if you see someone suspicious, call 911.