As the season begins to tip toward spring and Forsyth County residents venture to parks and green spaces, county authorities warn that warmer months are peak seasons for thieves and burglars who target parked vehicles.
“In the spring, we see an uptick in break-ins at parks and around Lake Lanier. It’s a very unique time for criminals to come out and commit crimes,” said Cpl. Doug Rainwater, spokesman for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.
Currently, investigators from both Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Cumming Police Department are searching for suspects after a rash of vehicle break-ins that targeted vehicles parked at Northside Hospital Forsyth, Big Creek Greenway and Fowler Park on Friday afternoon.
Tips to avoid an auto break-in
1. Lock your doors any time you leave your vehicle
2. Leave valuables at home or hide them out of plain view
3. Report all suspicious behavior to the proper authorities
According to incident reports from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Cumming Police Department, between 2 and 8 p.m., thieves broke into nine vehicles and stole cash, credit cards, electronics, jewelry worth thousands of dollars and guns.
The reports stated that almost all of the vehicles had a window smashed out or its lock forced open by some method.
“It only takes a few minutes to go through five to 10 cars,” Rainwater said, explaining that in “smash and grab” situations like the break-ins Forsyth County residents experienced Friday, criminals target vehicles with visible valuables and leave as quickly as possible.
Rainwater said that any time guns are stolen is particularly disturbing to law enforcement because firearms more than likely will remain in the hands of criminals.
Never leave any firearm visible in your car said Rainwater, because, “it only takes a few minutes for them to take it and then the gun is with criminals who are likely going to keep committing crimes.”
Reports from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office stated that the thieves were using credit cards stolen in the break-ins within the hour at stores and gas stations in Alpharetta and other areas of Fulton County.
One victim that had his work truck broken into Friday afternoon, Scott Trent, said that since his work truck and personal items were stolen out of the truck, he has grown nervous about parking in parking decks and leaving his car.
In addition to the break-ins Friday, two suspects were arrested by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office early Tuesday morning, after they were allegedly spotted entering parked vehicles in the Shepherds Pond Subdivision in south Forsyth.
“One of them drove up the road with headlights off, while the other went driveway to driveway testing car doors,” Rainwater said.
Rainwater said that the two men were spotted by a “vigilant citizen” who saw the suspects, knew something was wrong and called 911.
He said that with this tip, deputies were able to block off the neighborhood and arrest the men inside the neighborhood.
“Without that, within minutes they would have been able to get onto Ga. 400 and be gone into Atlanta,” Rainwater said.
Gregory Antonio Flint Jr., 19, and Daryl Russell McCrary, 18, both of Atlanta, were arrested at 2:25 a.m. Tuesday and charged with felony entering autos.
Both Flint and McCrary are being held in the Forsyth County Jail under no bond.
According to Rainwater, there are simple steps that anyone can take to reduce the risk of being a victim in a vehicle break-in.
He said that they tell everyone to; lock their car doors every time the vehicle is left alone, leave valuables at home or hidden from plain view, and to report any and all suspicious activity to authorities.
“Anything in plain view is bad, so keep everything out of sight. And never leave a loaded gun in your vehicle, locked or not,” he said.