Thieves return for unlocked doors

Published 8:01 pm Friday, March 29, 2013

Neighborhood dogs may be barking but the car alarms aren’t activating during a string of break-ins that happen one night. Nor are the alarms going off the next night, when the thieves return to plunder the good thing they’ve run across: unlocked cars in a safe neighborhood.

“Criminals are very opportunistic—they’re looking for a quick grab, a quick buck and they’ll repeat that process until it is no longer lucrative for them,” said Maj. Kenneth Watson, spokesman for the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. It happened recently on Fairway Drive in the Country Club Estates neighborhood of Washington: thieves entered several cars, stealing cash, sunglasses and GPS systems. Because of the ease of the first night’s thefts, they came back the next night to hit more cars.

After that, sheriff’s office deputies hit the neighborhood streets to knock on every door and encourage people to lock their car doors and report any unusual activity at night — like suspicious people and barking dogs.

While many people hesitate to call in their suspicions — reluctance to bother on-duty officers their reasoning — Watson said that’s what law enforcement is there for.

“We are, 24/7, looking for something to get into, whether that’s a crime in progress, a DWI, possession of drugs, break-ins, those are the kind of things we are out there looking for,” he explained.

Watson said the sheriff’s office understands that many feel like locking doors is the equivalent of giving in and “living in fear,” but prevention is key.

“We empathize with them and we hate that the world is the way it is, but if you want to reduce your chance of being victimized, you have to remove the opportunity,” he said. “If they come to your house at night and every car on your street is locked, they are not coming back.”