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Posted: March 24, 2012 8:40 p.m.

Reports of thefts from cars increase

The numbers keep growing in the most recent rash of entering autos in the city, and as police investigate the thefts, they urge residents to take extra precautions to make themselves harder targets for opportunistic thieves.

The thieves struck in the early morning hours of March 22, making their way through neighborhoods in a 1-mile radius. Covington Place, South Dearing Street, Ashley Drive, Forest Drive, Farmington Lane, Golfside Drive, Brooks Cove and Fairway Lane were all hit hard.

But these weren't break-ins. The group of thieves (officers believe it was a group working together) went house to house trying vehicle doors. In several cases there was more than one vehicle at the home, and only those left unlocked were disturbed. The amount of reported entered autos is up to 22 with one stolen. The stolen vehicle was recovered in DeKalb County and a gun missing from another car was found inside. However, police expect the number of reported cases to continue to grow.

"We still feel like there are some people who don't realize they have stuff missing so we want to make sure we continue to get all the information we can on it," said CPD Captain Ken Malcom Friday.

"These were targets of opportunity. This group was looking for unlocked vehicles and it was easy for these criminals to commit this act... if you lock your vehicle at night and a person's desire is to steal your valuables, they will have to break into your car. When they do that they create noise which can alert the victim or disturb a dog. You just want to make sure you are a harder target and one way to do that is to lock your vehicle."

Some vehicles left unlocked were simply ransacked. Others had multiple items taken. In some cases, items taken from one address were found at another, like purses, wallets, small amounts of cash and even wrappers from stolen candy.

Some people reported that their vehicles smelled of cigarette smoke when no one in the home was a smoker. In some cases, credit cards stolen had been used in the Lithonia and DeKalb County area during the early morning. One student had collected cash from friends to pay for their limo to prom - that was stolen as well.

"Take a moment and think about what criminals are looking for," said Malcom. "They are looking for things they can use to purchase goods and things they can resell or pawn; any valuable that can easily be resold.

"There are two types of criminals: predators and opportunists, and there are a lot more opportunists then there are predators and organized criminals. This was a group of opportunists... and they reached out for easy targets and you have to do your job to make sure you aren't an easy target."

In addition to locking vehicles, Malcom suggested getting motion sensors on the home or in the yard that will pop on if someone comes close and hopefully, deter would-be criminals.
Although not all items stolen had a price listed in the incident reports, those that did came to a total of $3,101.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the CPD tip line at (770) 385-6430 or online at www.covingtonpolice.com or through the tipsubmit mobile app. All tips can be given anonymously.

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