Local News

Smash-and-grab vehicle break-ins on rise in Fayetteville

Posted August 19, 2008 8:18 a.m. EDT
Updated August 19, 2008 6:23 p.m. EDT

— Police asked for the community’s help Tuesday to reduce the number of vehicle break-ins.

Officers have investigated 722 "smash-and-grab" vehicle break-ins since April 10, compared with 681 from Jan. 1 through April 10. Of the more recent incidents, global-positioning system units were stolen most often, police said.

Thieves have taken 163 GPS units since April 10, with 133 of them taken as a result of motor vehicle break-ins, police said. In most cases, the systems were left in plain sight in a vehicle, they said.

"If you got your valuables sitting out, they're going to take a rock and smash that glass," Sgt. Steve McIntosh of the Fayetteville Police Department said. "They're in and out and gone."

Last week, thieves targeted an apartment complex parking lot, smashing the windows of three cars and grabbing a television from a headrest, a fold-down, flat-screen TV, a PlayStation console and a laptop computer.

McIntosh said the break-ins have occurred across Fayetteville, from business parking lots to residential streets. Removing gadgets from the car and leaving a clip on the windshield is still a lure for thieves, he said.

"The crook's going to know, 'Hey, they probably got a GPS. I'm going to check and see if I can get in there, and if not, I'm going to smash the glass and go through the console,'" he said.

Unsecured vehicles made up an additional 233 break-ins, police said. In those cases, thieves walk through a parking lot or neighborhood testing door handles until they find those that are unlocked. They then open the door and take anything of value in the vehicle and then leave the area, police said.

Raleigh police investigated 3,662 thefts from vehicles between April 2007 and March, while Chapel Hill police investigated 329  such cases during the same period.

Police recover the stolen items in only a few cases, McIntosh said, noting too many people make it too easy for the thieves.

"They just get so wrapped up in whatever they're doing during the day that they just forget about their valuables inside their vehicles," he said.