Law enforcement warns people of car break-ins during the holiday season

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 7:57 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) -Car break-ins increase during this time of year due to holiday shopping, but there are ways you can lessen your chance of becoming a victim.

A recent car break-in victim plus law enforcement officials on both sides of the Chattahoochee River all agree you should remove firearms and valuables out of the car or keep them out of sight.

Latia Tolbert shot into the ground to protect her car after it was broken into in September.

“I was sitting down watching television, and my camera told me there was a person outside of my house, and I knew that I wasn’t expecting any company. So, I looked on the camera and saw the person walking up in my yard,” she said.

It was around 9 a.m. when her camera went off at her home in Columbus, and according to her, this was the fourth time she’s had a car break-in.

“I’ve had them when I locked the car, I’ve had them broke the windows out. So, I stopped locking my car and just taking all my valuables out,” Tolbert said,

Valuables such as electronics, purses, wallets, and keys are all things officials said you need to take out of your car or keep out of sight during the holidays.

“Try not to make yourself a victim, because they’re going through the neighborhoods. They’re looking into these cars. And if they see something in there they’ll go in it whether it’s unlocked or locked. They’ll bust the windows,” said Lieutenant Alan McCarty.

McCarty is the lieutenant of the property crimes division with the Columbus Police Department and he said firearms are one of the main things car thieves are looking for.

“And somebody breaks into your car... Now there’s another firearm that’s out on the street and they’re using them to commit crimes. Robberies, murders, whatnot,” he said.

Captain John Thomas with the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office said your vehicles are most vulnerable in areas such as parking lots, apartment complexes, and tight-knit subdivisions, but no matter where you are he said you should always lock your doors because that can encourage a thief to leave your car alone.

“There’s a myth out there that I don’t want to lock my doors because all they’re gonna wanna do is break the windows, and we want to come out and say that’s not always the case. Always lock your doors. A lot of this, again we talk about is a crime of opportunity,” said Thomas.

However, Thomas said there is a possibility they could break your window.

McCarty said they’ve seen many reports of thieves busting the window.

Across the river, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says they also see an increase in car break-ins during the holiday season.

“Simply the view of items in a vehicle is too tempting for a lot of these individuals.

Jones also encouraged people to park in well-lit areas and make sure to lock their doors to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.

If you do fall victim to a car break-in you should reach out to your local law enforcement agency and file a police report.

You can click here to report online with the Columbus Police Department.

For more information about how to file a report with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office click here.