99 auto burglaries reported this summer
Sheriff warns residents to lock vehicle doors
June had the highest number of auto burglaries with 58, but several teens were arrested in connection with most of those crimes. One of the teens, 17-year-old John Wells, was charged with breaking into 30 vehicles.
In July there were 25 auto burglaries and already this month there have been 16. Champagne is urging residents to lock their car doors, which he said would drastically reduce the number of cases.
The crimes have occurred all over the parish, including Hahnville, Luling, Boutte, Des Allemands, St. Rose, Destrehan and Ama. Champagne said that auto burglary has become so prevalent across the country that it has been given a name - car hopping.
Instances of car hopping tend to increase in the summer when kids are out of school.
“Most of this summertime increase is attributable to juveniles with insufficient discipline or parental supervision over the summer,” Champagne said. “However, it is really a small number of delinquents who are responsible. The vast majority of kids are good.”
The crimes mostly occur in the early morning hours and a thief will usually proceed on foot through a neighborhood between midnight and 5 a.m. pulling on car doors to find those that are unlocked, Champagne said.
“While most people do lock their cars and remove valuables from them, many still do not,” he said. “”The thieves will rummage through the vehicle looking for anything of value such as guns, CDs, GPS, cell phones, brief cases, etcetera.”
Of the 16 vehicle burglaries that have occurred this month, only one took place during the daytime. That was when a thief saw a wallet in a locked vehicle at the East Bank Bridge Park and broke the window to take the money.
“The victim happened to see the perpetrator, quickly called in the description of the fleeing suspect vehicle and an arrest was made,” Champagne said.
All of the others occurred late at night.
Last week in Ama, there were three car burglaries on PM Lane and one on Ellen Street.
“That same night there were several in neighboring Jefferson Parish in the town of Waggaman,” Champagne said. “JPSO (Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office) detectives suspected a perpetrator using a bicycle. The Ama auto break-ins were probably connected to these offenses. Auto break-ins are a big problem everywhere - not just in St. Charles Parish.”
The other auto break-ins were sporadic around the parish and were most likely perpetrated by individual thieves or groups of thieves living in those areas.
Champagne has repeatedly said that vehicle burglaries are probably the most preventable crime in St. Charles.
“We all need to get into the simple habit of removing valuables from the vehicle when unoccupied and locking the car,” he said. “I do not mean to be critical of anyone who has left their vehicle unlocked and left a valuable item inside. I only ask that you help us reduce crime by taking the above described precautionary steps.
“I truly believe that many of you do lock your car at night. The numbers of this crime would likely be much higher if this were not the case.”
If you see anyone suspicious walking the streets in the early morning hours, Champagne asks that you get a description of the person and call 9-1-1.
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