Agencies remind citizens of vehicle safety tips

Published 6:42 pm Sunday, June 17, 2018

Following several car break-ins in early June, local law enforcement officers are reminding residents to lock their car doors. In June, there were 12 entering auto incidents reported at Great Wolf Lodge and Shuford Fields, and, in most of those cases, suspects punched through the locks on the vehicle’s door handles to gain entry.

Troup County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Stewart Smith said they see a rise in entering auto cases during the summer and holiday season.

“I think a lot of that is the fact that people travel during those times,” Smith said. “They may leave their vehicles unattended during those periods of time.”

LaGrange Police Department Capt. Mike Pheil said entering autos can occur anytime public events bring in crowded parking lots.

“It’s any public events that draw a lot of vehicles where people aren’t typically around their car, such as the ball field where they all park and go inside,” Pheil said. “It’s extremely important for them to not keep valuables inside their vehicle. Anytime when [you] park in those areas, be aware of your surroundings.”

Smith said locking vehicles is the first thing people can do to prevent suspects from entering.

“The next step they can do is don’t leave valuables in your car,” Smith said.

“Put (away) your cellphones or iPads or cash, handguns, stuff like that. Take those things out of your car. If you can’t take them out of your car, if you just want to leave them in there, just don’t put them in plain sight. Put them in a console, glove box or even the trunk.”

Pheil said suspects entering the vehicles may be in the parking lots when visitors park. Pheil said because of that, if people have items they’re leaving in the vehicle to have them already concealed so they don’t target visitors.

“It gives them more reason to break into a vehicle if they see something that they want.  If they don’t see anything, they may just move on from the vehicle,” Smith said.

Pheil said items that people don’t need at public events should not be left in vehicles.

“Everything they don’t need at the ball field I just recommend they leave at the house,” Pheil said.

If a visitor’s vehicle is entered, Smith said it’s important for them, to make a report with law enforcement.

“Sometimes people don’t make a report if it’s something minor, but anytime you got something taken from you, or you believe somebody has messed with your vehicle, please report it, that way we keep up with that,” Smith said.