Public Safety Message From Gwinnett County Police

posted Mar 22, 2010, 9:20 AM by NGBSA Communications Director   [ updated Sep 18, 2015, 6:24 AM ]
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:
  • Approximately $38,000 in cash was stolen from vehicles
  • 69 guns were stolen out of vehicles
  • 48% of the vehicles entered were unlocked
Those guns are now in the hands of criminals, and that makes everyone less safe. Some of these criminals will graduate from breaking into cars to committing armed robbery or worse.

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: 
  • Always lock your vehicle
  • Do not invite theft by leaving valuables such as GPS devices and laptop computers in plain sight inside the vehicle
  • After shopping, lock items in the trunk or take the merchandise home
  • At the end of your day, park your vehicle in the driveway or garage and take all valuables inside the house
  • Be particularly aware when you are at a restaurant or gym because the perpetrators know you are going to be away from your vehicle for an extended period of time and simply wait for you to go inside to break into your car
  • For bank deposits or withdrawals, always alternate your times and routes, be aware of your surroundings, and never leave cash in the car unattended
Many people believe that it is solely law enforcement's responsibility to keep them safe from crime. They long for the days when they were able to leave their doors unlocked without fear of theft or violence. However, this is just not the case today. Citizens must step up to the plate and take responsibility for helping the police keep them safe. Citizens must "target harden" their environment and stop being volunteer victims. Make yourself a difficult person to victimize. Every security measure comes with a certain amount of inconvenience, whether it is an alarm system that has to be armed and unarmed, a door that has to be locked and unlocked, or having to carry your valuables from the car to the house everyday. It is inconvenient but vitally necessary.

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