Car burglaries on the rise, SCSO cautions vigilance

Published 11:48 am Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The SCSO urges county residents to remain vigilant as car burglaries are on the rise. (File)

The SCSO urges county residents to remain vigilant as car burglaries are on the rise. (File)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY—On Jan. 31, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a car burglary on Little Turtle Drive off of Cahaba Valley Road. The burglary resulted in an exchange of fire between the suspect and the homeowner at 1:30 a.m. in the quiet residential neighborhood.

This incident is indicative of a larger trend. The Sheriff’s Office has reported a rise in felony car break-ins throughout the county, including parking lots and neighborhoods along major roadways such as U.S. 280 and Cahaba Valley Road.

“Over the past few months, we have seen an increase in car burglaries along the major arteries of travel in Shelby County,” Sheriff’s Office Lt. Clay Hammac said. “A lot of our suspects are simply commuting through suburban areas trying to take advantage of (those) folks (who) may have their guard down and leave their cars unlocked.”

There are steps car owners can take to avoid becoming a victim of a burglary.

“The majority of every single one of these (break-ins) are absolutely preventable,” Hammac said. “Ninety eight to 99 percent of them are vehicles left unlocked in their own driveways.”

Hammac urged Shelby County residents to lock their car doors, even in their own driveways, and stow valuables such as cellphones, laptops, GPS devices, purses, wallets and firearms, out of plain sight.

“The reality is (car burglars) don’t want to be caught, they don’t want to damage property in broad daylight,” Hammac said, noting burglars are looking for an “inconspicuous way of going into a car” and forced break-ins are “very, very rare.”

Unlike the Jan. 31 incident, Hammac said many of the reported burglaries occur during the daytime in busy neighborhoods, shopping centers and parking lots. Hammac cautioned residents to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.

“If you see something suspicious or out of the ordinary, please call us, let us know,” Hammac said. “No one knows your neighborhood better than you.”