Unlocked cars bog down police

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It was a lame excuse, but it was an entry point into a larger concern for local authorities.

The St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office said a Reserve woman exited her home on a recent Sunday evening to find a teenager rifling through her truck with her laptop in his hand.

What was the 15-year-old’s excuse?

The reported victim explained to deputies the perpetrator told her he thought the truck was abandoned and the items in it belonged to no one in particular.

In this case, authorities reported the woman got her computer back, was unharmed and the suspect was eventually released to the custody of his mother.

The problem with the case, according to authorities, is the vehicle was unlocked in the first place.

When a vehicle is broken into in St. John Parish and reported to authorities, the case is logged as a burglary. There were 298 burglaries reported in 2014 and 131 reported in the first half of 2015, which equals 429 over a recent 18-month stretch.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said investigators are finding a number of the burglaries are being committed by the same individuals, going on to say criminals are learning from what previously led to their capture and modifying their techniques, “making it more difficult” for authorities to arrest the suspects.

It obviously takes considerable manpower and time to combat the increased challenge of burglary prevention and apprehension in St. John Parish.

However, local authorities are all too often working cases that originate from theft sparked by assailants taking valued items from unlocked cars.

“Additional crime cameras and home surveillance security systems have become a huge part of our crime-solving methods,” Tregre said. “Vehicles being left unlocked are still problematic.”

We all agree the world should be safe enough for us to leave our cars and trucks unlocked. That’s not the case, and it needs to be understood that leaving a vehicle unlocked invites those with criminal tendencies to violate your trust and steal your belongings, if not the car itself.

That crime leads to a call to deputies, which brings on a response and investigation, tying up local authorities’ time working a seemingly preventable crime while concurrently working more serious infractions.

Please, lock up your vehicles at all times.