COVINGTON -- The Newton County Sheriff's Office is seeking the public's help in stopping a rash of entering auto crimes that appear to be on the rise.
According to NCSO spokesman Lt. Tyrone Oliver, there have been 35 entering auto incidents so far during the month of July. There were 22 for the month of June, and law enforcement doesn't like the trend.
"I'd say in 95 percent of the cases, the cars were left unlocked and valuables were left in plain sight," Oliver said. "Times have changed. Unfortunately, we don't live in the same country area we used to. We need to be locking our car doors even when they're in our driveways and securing our valuables."
Oliver said when faced with a locked door and nothing of any apparent value visible, thieves usually don't go to the trouble or take a chance with that particular vehicle. They'll generally move along to easier pickings.
"They're taking things like wallets, GPS systems, radios, DVD players ... don't leave a GPS on the dashboard. Be sure and take a purse inside ... don't leave loose change just lying around," he said, adding that by taking the precaution of even putting these things under a seat or in the trunk could make a difference, but it is preferable to remove them from the vehicle when possible.
And, always lock your vehicle, even if you've been leaving it unlocked in your driveway for years. Locking your car every time you get out is a good habit to develop.
Security lights at home are a good precaution and when parking away from home, always park under a light and in a well-populated area.
Oliver said he wanted to stress to citizens if they see a strange person walking or a strange car in their neighborhood, do not hesitate to call 911.
"A lot of times people see things or hear something and don't report it and then the next day find out everybody's cars got broken into the night before," he said. "A lot of times we can prevent something happening."
Oliver said even if the suspect vehicle is long gone, if witnesses have gotten a good description of the vehicle or a tag number, it can many times be located in another neighborhood.
"We don't encourage anyone to approach a suspicious vehicle or individual, but we do ask they try to get a good description or tag number," he said.
Anyone with information on these recent entering auto incidents or any other crime in the community is asked to call the NCSO at 678-625-1400. Tips can be given to the NCSO anonymously at 678-625-5007 or through their Web site at www.newtonsheriffga.org and clicking on "anonymous tips." Those who want a response from NCSO personnel should leave contact information.