Vigilance prevents volunteer victimization
A public safety message from Major Bart Hulsey, Gwinnett County Police
There were just over 3,000 incidents of entering autos, or car break-ins, in unincorporated Gwinnett County between April and December 2009. The Gwinnett County Police Department has worked diligently to curtail this increase of theft and made 112 entering auto arrests during that same time. Once a pattern is identified, GCPD conducts "directed patrol" in that area, which generally results in entering auto crimes dropping in that area and rising in another. In other words, we simply move the criminals around.
Our Crime Analysis Unit has studied this specific crime and compiled some startling facts from the period April through December 2009:
GCPD has reached out to the public on numerous occasions this year, imploring them to follow simple crime prevention steps to avoid being a victim of this crime. Despite these public education efforts, citizens continue to become "volunteer" victims by leaving valuables in plain sight in unlocked vehicles. Shoppers purchase a TV, computer, or other high-dollar electronic device at a big box store and then go directly to a restaurant to eat without unloading their expensive merchandise. When they return to their car, an observant criminal has taken their stuff. There is no elaborate planning necessary to commit this crime, which is why perpetrators stake out these particular stores.
As easy as this crime is to commit, it is even easier to prevent just by taking these simple steps:
The number of thefts from vehicles could be drastically reduced if we all commit to thinking ahead and making the necessary changes in our daily routine. The Gwinnett County Police Department is dedicated to arresting as many of these perpetrators as possible; we would never ask a citizen to confront a criminal. We simply ask for citizens to help us by removing valuables from plain sight and locking their doors.
I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to address those individuals who commit this type of crime. Many of the perpetrators are juveniles or young adults who do not seem to realize the consequences of being convicted for Entering Auto (Georgia Code 16-8-18). This crime is a felony, regardless of the value of the item stolen from the car, and carries a possible sentence of not less than one year nor more than five years - for a single count. This is not a game or child's play; it is a serious crime. Police officers and the courts spend considerable resources dealing with this issue and take a grave view of people convicted of this crime. Parents, teachers, youth ministers, scout leaders, or anybody else that has influence over young people should take the time to counsel with them that engaging in this behavior could alter their future in a very significant way.
Thank you for the opportunity to address this issue. Please, let's all work together to make Gwinnett County a safer environment in which to live and work.
Want to know more?
For additional information about crime prevention or the Gwinnett County Police Department, please follow these links:
• Gwinnett County Police Department
• Crime Prevention Unit
• Crime Prevention Unit Contacts
• Neighborhood Crime Map
Copyright 2010, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners