Several reports have been recently received by the Stephens County Sheriff's Office from residents whose vehicles have been rummaged through, with items being stolen in some cases.
In addition to official reports filed by citizens with the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office or other law enforcement agencies, ConnectLocal.news has observed several posts on social media from Toccoa/Stephens County residents whose vehicles have been entered by unknown individual(s).
ConnectLocal.news spoke with both Stephens County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Andy Myer about ‘entering auto’ crimes, and how best to avoid falling victim to those perpetrating the crime.
"I cannot stress it enough - it is important to lock your car- its extremely important to lock your car if there is a weapon inside the vehicle. As a gun owner and an avid supporter of the Second Amendment, I believe in the right to bear arms, but I also believe there is a responsibility that comes along with that, and you should secure that weapon and make sure it is not accessible to anyone that is passing by," said Myer.
“I don’t think we’re seeing a trend - entering auto offenses tend to be somewhat sporadic; you’ll see four or five, of them and then not see anything for several months, then you’ll see four or five again,” said Myer, adding that the crimes are typically happening between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. “Historically, we have not had a single one where the car was actually “broken into,” - every one of them was an opportunistic crime where the cars have been left unlocked. Oftentimes, there are things in plain view, like purses. If their vehicle is left unlocked and there is something of value left in plain view, it increases the chances of something like that happening,” Myers told ConnectLocal.News, adding that the incidents are spread out throughout the county, not grouped in a specific area.
“There have been rumors on Facebook of other entering autos where nothing was taken, but all I can base my statements on is the people that have called and made reports,” he said. “Even if nothing is taken, please call, because that allows us to do things like check neighborhood houses for cameras and that sort of thing. With these type crimes. it’s usually about getting a lucky break with one of them and then trying to tie it back into the rest of them- right now, we have nothing – it’s not that we haven’t followed up on every single one of those where the reports have been made.”
In the entering auto crimes where the unlocked vehicle contained items that were stolen, among the items taken were firearms.
“We address those as very serious because that not only puts law enforcement at danger, it adds that community members at risk,” Myers said. “These stolen guns are the ones that are commonly found in narcotic houses and that sort of thing, and are often used in more violent crimes, so we take them very seriously … we respond to those with very high importance and as quickly as possible.”
The Stephens County Sheriff's Investigations Office can be reached at 9-1-1 or 706-886-7048.
Recent reported entering autos incidents, provided by Sgt. Joshua Goodbar, Criminal Investigations Division:
Date: Location: Items Taken: 10/24/2019 Deer Chase Rd, Purse, cash 10/28/2019 Harbert Valley Rd Speaker, socket set 11/25/2019 Hwy 145 Cordless Drill 11/26/2019 Mize Rd Flashlight 12/26/2019 Hayes Rd Firearm 12/29/2019 Wolf Pit Rd Firearm, cash, purse 12/30/2019 Rock Creek Rd Firearm 01/01/2020 Country View Rd Firearm 01/11/2020 Avalon Rd Purse, Jewelry, cash