Officers see rise in entering auto cases

Published 9:15 am Monday, September 20, 2021

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Over the past few weeks, Bainbridge Public Safety and the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office has seen an increase in entering auto cases, specifically cases involving the theft of a firearm. Now, officers are asking residents to review their video footage and always lock their vehicles.

According to Bainbridge Public Safety Director Frank Green, every year BPS sees a group of individuals who partake in entering auto cases. There are usually three in a group with one serving as a lookout, while the other two quickly check cars and grab items, allowing for numerous vehicles to be entered within a matter of minutes.

Green said BPS or the DCSO usually always end up catching the group, but in the meantime the items being stolen pose a risk to the community, as most of them are weapons.

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“We’ve seen for years that autos that are unlocked are an easy target for these groups,” he said. “We are concerned about vehicles parking in their residences and leaving them unlocked with weapons inside.”

Green asks that citizens remove their weapons from their vehicle before going into the home. If for some reason the driver has to leave their weapon inside the vehicle, make sure it is locked.

“They are primarily looking for weapons,” he said. “The criminal activity of stealing a firearm doesn’t end with theft. It continues when the firearm is used in additional criminal activity, which poses a tremendous amount of danger to the community.”

Green said the reason the groups are primarily seeking weapons is so they can sell them to convicted felons, who cannot legally purchase firearms.

“Many weapons used in violent crimes are stolen from someone’s vehicle and then passed around,” he said.

According to Green, BPS has been recovering 1-2 stolen pistols a week from convicted felons in the past 30 days.

In order to help curb this issue, Green has increased patrol in all the neighborhoods and is asking everyone to please lock their vehicles.

Green said the groups entering automobiles typically do not break into a locked vehicle because of the noise and attention it would draw to their operation.

He is also asking residents who own surveillance cameras to please review their video footage and see if they see any suspicious activity or notice any unfamiliar individuals in the area who were possibly scouting out vehicles.

“Everyone needs to be vigilant,” he reminded.

For those who notice any suspicious activity on their video feed, Green asks they call Investigator Mark Esquivel at 229-515-0097, who is handling the entering auto cases at this time.