Police urge residents to lock doors

Published 6:03 pm Thursday, January 30, 2014

A neighborhood of mobile homes has been the latest site of a rash of vehicle break-ins recently, and Washington police are sending a message out: lock cars, and lock up other valuables.

While the number of break-ins has dropped in comparison to recent years — 194 in 2011, 98 in 2012, and 62, last year — officials are encouraging city residents to assist in crime prevention.

“We’re actually down but the numbers are still too high for me,” said Washington Police and Fire Services Director Stacy Drakeford. “The issue is that people aren’t locking their car doors. Anything of value needs to be put up and locked behind a door. … If they lock their doors, that will lower the crime rate.”

During some of the recent break-ins, perpetrators have targeted neighborhoods around town, broken into vehicles and taken anything of value: loose change, cell phones, iPads, laptops. But some break-ins are quite simple — crimes of opportunity in which vehicles are left unlocked.

According to Drakeford, a recent WPD arrest involved juveniles who took advantage of vehicles left unsecured. The juveniles admitted that during their spree, if they came across locked doors, they’d moved on to easier marks.

While the mobile home park behind Mt. Olive College has been the most recent location targeted, at least three vehicle break-ins were reported to Washington police the morning of Jan. 15, each located in the neighborhood around West 11th Street, North Respess Street and Summit Avenue.

Drakeford said shoplifting and larceny are the common crimes that drive local crime rates up, and larceny numbers could be cut in half if residents took the precaution of locking their doors.