The Columbia County Sheriff's Office says thieves broke into just 21 percent of the 259 vehicles entered unlawfully in the county this year.
For the other 79 percent, no break-in was required. That's because the owner left the welcome mat out for them.
In the vast majority of cases, thieves were able to get into cars because the owner didn't lock the door. It's as simple as that - and deterring thefts often is equally and amazingly as simple: just lock the door.
"Lock doors and take keys with you, first and foremost," says Capt. Steve Morris. "It's something so simple, but it's simply not being done."
This issue is bigger than the individual incidents, and it goes beyond just the lost value of items pilfered from cars. When John Doe leaves his vehicle unlocked in the Target parking lot and a thief pops in, swipes a few items and leaves, John has lost his goods.
But the taxpayers lose, too, because when John calls the cops, a deputy has to stop all other duties to fill out a crime report. That's valuable time the officer could instead spend patrolling the parking lots looking for such thieves and deterring their activities.
Think about it: How many other opportunities for crime are created just because one irresponsible vehicle owner leaves his car unlocked and ties up a deputy reporting on the ensuing theft?
Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle's "Lock It or Lose It" campaign is a good one. But law enforcement can't do it alone; they need everyone's help.
That starts by locking your car.
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