Over the past several weeks, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has investigated a spell of different thefts from vehicles parked at homes and in public spaces throughout the county.
In the early hours of Monday, May 20, 12 vehicles from the Creekstone Estates Subdivision in south Forsyth were illegally entered by thieves, who stole tools and a handgun, according to Sheriff’s Office incident reports.
Other reports state that on the same night, a wallet was stolen from an unlocked vehicle at The Venue Big Creek Apartments off Ronald Reagan Boulevard.
On Friday, May 24, a woman reported to deputies that credit cards and cash were stolen from her vehicle while she walked her dog in Fowler Park. The woman stated that even though she had immediately cancelled her credit cards after discovering they were missing, the thieves had already attempted to use them at several stores for thousands in purchases.
Officials say that it is a well-known fact that thieves regularly target parked vehicles in subdivisions and public spaces in the north metro Atlanta area. While sometimes the thieves are caught, more often than not the crime goes unnoticed for hours, leaving suspects plenty of time to escape.
But according to Sgt. Derek Bleisath of the sheriff’s office’s property crimes unit, there are several simple ways to make sure that your vehicle is not the target of an opportunity criminal.
Bleisath said that because most thieves who target vehicles go from door to door, checking to see what is inside and what is unlocked, residents can eliminate thieves’ incentive to break in by removing valuables from vehicles, consistently locking vehicle doors and by “double locking” valuables in a trunk or glove box.
“People do leave their belonging inside their vehicles and I don’t blame them, as long as they lock them up,” he said.
Along with locking up or removing valuables, Bleisath recommended residents invest in a doorbell camera or home security camera for their property and driveway.
“The night vision on those cameras nowadays are helping us tremendously. Not only that, but they’ve got motion lights too,” he said.
Bleisath also said vehicle owners should keep records of the make, model and serial numbers of any gun, electronic device or other valuables that are kept in the vehicle.
“If you don’t have any of that, it’s harder for us to track,” he said.
When parking out in public spaces, Bleisath said that people should remove any signs that there might be valuables inside. He said that with even a suspicion that something of valuable has been left, an experienced thief can break your window, toss the contents of your vehicle and be gone in less than a minute.
Additionally, when parking in public places, he said that people should try to park near structures or other people and call 911 if you see someone acting suspiciously.
“If you see something, say something,” he said. “Call 911. What’s it going to hurt?”