Lock your doors

Published 3:43 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2019

If it’s been printed in this newspaper once, it’s been printed a hundred times — over and over again, law enforcement officials have emphasized the importance of locking one’s vehicles and keeping valuables out of sight.

On Wednesday, the Daily News’ front-page headline announced nearly 150 felony charges for five individuals accused of breaking into vehicles throughout Beaufort County. In retrospect, however, the term “break-in” might be a bit misleading.

When one thinks of a “break-in,” images of smashed windows and jimmied locks come to mind. Not so in these cases. All the suspects had to do was walk up to the vehicle and open the door. Easy pickings.

The fact is, practically all of these break-ins could have been prevented by one simple action — locking the doors.

Perhaps most disturbing about the whole string of events is that in two instances, guns were stolen from these unlocked vehicles. Neither firearm has been recovered and there is a distinct possibility that they are now in the hands of someone who will use them for unlawful purposes.

Who knows? Those two guns stolen from these unlocked vehicles might just be used to commit murder. While responsibility for such death would ultimately fall on the person who pulls the trigger, one has to wonder what implications that might have for the rightful owner of the weapon.

Nationwide, there has been a spike in recent years in the number of guns stolen out of vehicles. In Nashville, Tennessee, for instance, a total of 659 guns were stolen from vehicles in 2018 alone. Atlanta, an even bigger city, had 1,021 firearms taken from cars during the same timeframe.

While Beaufort County is pretty far removed from these metropolitan areas in a lot of ways, the issue is the same.

There may have been a day when it was OK to leave one’s vehicle unlocked overnight, but that day is long past. We’re not in Mayberry anymore, folks. Even in the country, one needs to exercise a little bit of street smarts. Let the break-ins of the last couple months be a lesson to all — no neighborhood is immune, and crime may come to you, even if you don’t expect it where you live.

Phone chargers can be replaced. Cash is an unfortunate loss, but it too can be earned back. Once a gun is stolen, however, there’s no telling where it will end up and what it will be used for. If you’re going to own a firearm, be responsible about it. Keep it secure and don’t leave it in an unlocked vehicle.

Lock. Your. Doors. It’s that simple.