Decatur county car break-ins trouble homeowners - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Decatur county car break-ins trouble homeowners

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By Christian Jennings - bio | email

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - Four young men are in jail after a rash of car burglaries in Decatur county.

They're accused of stealing guns, electronics, and other personal items out of a dozen vehicles.

Even the Sheriff was hit.  Now homeowners are taking precautions to keep their belongings safe.

The four men investigators say are responsible for the breakins are charged with 12 car burglaries.

But it's likely as the investigation continues, more charges will quickly pile on.

But even though the suspects are in jail, homeowners I spoke with in the targeted neighborhoods are worried more breakins could happen again.

Now they're taking steps to protect themselves, and they're property.

17-year-old Joshua Jackson, 21-year-old Michael Cox, and a 15 and 16-year-old are in jail.

Investigators say they broke into more than a dozen vehicles in Decatur county over the past couple of weeks.

"These were kids that got in a car and would ride around different subdivisions and break into whatever cars they could find," said Major Wendell Cofer with the Decatur County Sheriff's office.

The young men are accused of stealing several guns, electronics, credit cards, and cash.

"We've recovered 5 stolen firearms and a ton of electronic devices," said Cofer.

Items the thieves didn't want, they dumped in sewers.

"We've done a lot of ditch searches to try and recover people's personal information," said Cofer.

Decatur county Sheriff Wiley Griffin was one of the many victims.

"I realized the next morning my wallet and gun were missing from my car," said the Sheriff.

His vehicle and his wife's vehicle were rummaged through outside their home in the Douglas Hills subdivision last Monday.

This week, River Oaks was hit hard. Investigators have confirmed 10 car burglaries there.

The Sheriff says all of recent the breakins were crimes of opportunity, meaning all the cars were unlocked.  So the best way to deter a thief, is with the simple click of a button, lock your doors.

"I would never think this would happen here, it's a safe neighborhood." River oaks homeowner Debra McConnell was spared in the rash of car burglaries.

Now she's taking extra precautions for the future.

"We will make sure doors locked, the security system is on, we also told neighbors we are going to start watching out for each other," she said.

"Everyone needs to make sure vehicles and houses are always locked. No neighborhood is immune," said Sheriff Wiley Griffin.

Investigators say the 16-year-old in jail was just arrested a few weeks ago for breaking into a car, stealing a gun, and selling it to this man, 18-year-old Aaron Bryan. Less than a week later, he was back doing the same thing.

Bryan has not been tagged as a participant in the rash of car burglaries, but investigators aren't ruling him out.

Right now the 4 young men in jail are charged with 12 car burglaries, but investigators tell me they believe the group could be responsiblefor as many as 50 car break-ins, that could go back as far as 5 months.

Decatur county investigators anticipate making more arrests and will likely add more charges to the current suspects as they continue gathering evidence.

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