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Posted: September 19, 2013 9:33 p.m.

Break-ins prompt renewed warnings

A rash of car break-ins this week has authorities warning residents to be vigilant when it comes to keeping items inside their vehicles.

It seems that thieves are striking during sporting events, when there are a plethora of vehicles, but little supervision, around local churches, parks and even fitness centers. Crimes of this nature become more and more common as the seasons change and the holidays approach.

"There are really only two types of criminals: opportunists and predators," explained Covington Police Capt. Ken Malcom. "A predator is one that seeks out and victimizes others for his own gain. An opportunist is one who adapts his actions and takes advantage of opportunities or circumstances.

"Whether you encounter someone who plans out a crime against you or simply sees a quick chance to score, your best chance to prevent you or your family from becoming a victim is to limit the opportunities criminals have to victimize you. In a case involving ‘entering autos,’ opportunists and the predators are both looking for the same thing — unlocked cars with items of value inside.

"Money, purses, laptops, cellphones, guns, (and) cellphones, guns, (and) iPads are common target items that are often left in view in unlocked vehicles. It is so important to always secure expensive belongings that criminals would possibly target and lock your vehicle. Whether you’re just running into a store for five minutes or parking your car for your workday or for the night, always lock your doors. This sounds simple, but in today’s busy world, we often forget about the little things that can be done that can keep you from becoming a victim."

Newton County Sheriff’s Public Information Officer Cortney Morrison agreed.

"Most entering auto thefts are crimes of opportunity through unlocked doors and open windows."

Keep these safety tips in mind to help prevent entering auto thefts.

• Remove all items from plain view. Items such as loose change, purses, wallets, checkbooks, cellphones, iPods and other items of value including detachable CD players and even chargers should not be visible.

• Secure the trunk, hatches and bed-mounted toolboxes.

• Make sure all windows and doors are locked. Avoid isolated areas.

• Park near locations frequently used by pedestrians and well-lit areas. If you hear something suspicious such as shattering glass or observe someone looking into vehicles, call 911.

• Leave outdoor lights on for higher visibility and as a deterrent to criminals.

• While at home, use your garage or a secure location whenever possible.

• Know your neighbors and look out for one another.  A great way to do this is through a Neighborhood Watch committee, which the Newton County Sheriff’s Office can assist a neighborhood in creating.  

If interested in Neighborhood Watch, contact Deputy Sam Johnson at sjohnson@newtonsheriffga.org or 678-625-1464.

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