EUFAULA, Ala. (WRBL) — The Eufaula and Phenix City Police Departments are warning the public about an influx of car break-ins throughout their cities.
In the past 18 months the Eufaula Police Department has seen an increase in thieves targeting cars in residential areas. Unlike typical smash and grab break-ins, these offenders are walking from house to house, going from car to car and trying door handles until they find one unlocked.
In the past year Eufaula P.D. has had 74 break-in reports and made eight arrests for unlawful breaking and entering. In over half of these break-ins, firearms were stolen out of the vehicles. Most happened in the middle of the night where there are no witnesses, but now Eufaula P.D. is utilizing people who have Ring Doorbell cameras to find these offenders.
“What we’ll do if we have a rash of car break-ins in a certain neighborhood, we’ll actually canvass that neighborhood, ask who has these surveillance cameras, doorbell cameras and whatnot and ask if we can see those. Those have been beneficial.”Steve Watkins, Eufaula Police Chief
Phenix City has seen 170 car break-ins since October. A couple of weeks ago, they had 14 in one day in the areas of some local hotels, apartment complexes and residential areas.
“When I assign cases out, if we have say 10 at one apartment complex and in the local neighborhood we have an additional 5 or 6 more I’m going to give those cases to the same investigator to investigate, that way I don’t have too many hands in a pot.”Marc Cutt, Lt. Phenix City PD
Both police departments also noticed that some of these thieves are stealing catalytic converters from vehicles to sell online or to auto-parts stores.
Phenix City P.D. asks the public to look out for their neighbors; call the police if you notice any suspicious activity in your neighborhood.
“A lot of the people that have lived in a neighborhood especially in phenix City, people have lived in their neighborhoods for 10+ years where they know the traffic that comes in and out.”Marc Cutt, Lt. Phenix City PD
The easiest thing to do to prevent break-ins from happening is to lock your vehicle before turning in for the night, not leaving any valuables behind. Parking in a lit area or installing surveillance cameras can also serve as deterrents for criminals.
Eufaula P.D. also shared a post on their social media advising people to refrain from posting photos of Christmas gifts or the interior of their homes around the holiday season. Criminals can see these photos and identify things like door hinges, locks, or indications of firearms.