Police advise caution after rash of auto burglaries

Peaked last month with 14 burglaries over two days in Destrehan area

Lock up your vehicles.

Several parish residents have been victimized by a recent rash of automobile burglaries, and as the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office looks for the culprits, police advise residents take precautions to make it less likely they count themselves among the victimized.

On Feb. 16, two vehicles were burglarized in St. Rose and another in Boutte, with firearms being stolen in two of the cases. A day prior, $250 was taken from another vehicle parked in St. Rose, and the day before that, a wallet from a vehicle in Luling.

The peak thus far, however, came on the nights of Feb. 10 and 11, where 14 vehicle burglaries were reported in the Destrehan area. That followed a separate report of several burglaries at the Cypress RV Park in Boutte.

Last year yielded a 22-year low for St. Charles Parish’s crime rate, a 12.4 percent drop from 2017. Total burglaries fell by 113, thefts by 92 and auto thefts by five. When discussing those numbers, St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne credited the public awareness efforts made by the Sheriff’s Office when it was determined many stolen items were taken from unlocked vehicles. Vehicle burglaries were the most reported crime last year, but that there was a 13 percent decrease from the year before.

A photo taken from video footage of a vehicle burglary at the Cypress RV Park in Boutte.

Cpl. James Grimaldi, Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said it’s not yet known how this year’s vehicle burglary numbers compare to last year’s until next month, as the Sheriff’s Office’s statistics are compiled and evaluated on a month-by-month basis.

He said that vehicle burglaries stand as one of the more common crimes because it tends to be among the simpler ones. Often, burglars aren’t targeting one specific car — nor are they satisfied with the haul from one.

“Commonly, suspects will walk a specific street block pulling car door handles until they find an unlocked vehicle,” Grimaldi said. “Once they find the unlocked vehicle, they will do a quick rummage, taking any money, electronics, or other valuables they can quickly grab.  These specific crimes can be done in as little as a minute from the time they open the door, to the time that they are moving to the next vehicle.”

Because of the fast nature of the crime, it is easy for there to be several burglaries committed on a single street in the course of a night, Grimaldi said.

So though there may have been less burglaries reported a year ago, Grimaldi warns that can change quickly if residents drop their guard. He advises consistently taking an extra moment to ensure the door to one’s vehicle is locked, as well as to look at the vehicle from the outside to ensure valuable items aren’t plainly in sight. If one has anything of any value, it should be taken out of the vehicle or secured in the trunk.

“Criminals go window shopping by looking through your windows.  Don’t advertise your valuables by leaving them in view.” – Cpl. James Grimaldi

“Keep in mind, good people will go window shopping at a mall, looking through a store front’s window,” Grimaldi said. “Criminals go window shopping by looking through your windows.  Don’t advertise your valuables by leaving them in view.”

Auto burglaries

  • Last year saw a 13 percent decrease in auto burglaries reported in St. Charles Parish, but it was also the most reported crime.
  • There were 14 burglaries over two nights in February of this year.
  • Because of the crime’s simple nature, a car burglar can be apt to target not one, but several cars in an area at a given time, making it imperative to lock doors and keep valuable items out of plain sight.

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