In June thieves were caught on camera stealing from someone's car. (Source: Danielle Harris)
Crooks broke into Sherrilyn Scott's car and stole hundreds of dollars. (Source: WALB)
Detectives said people should not leave valuables in parked cars. (Source: WALB)
Police believe handgun stolen from a car was later used in a shooting. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
It's something victims say they never expected would happen, thieves breaking into their cars.
But this summer Albany police are seeing an increase in the number of reported car breaks ins.
"Fourth of July morning my truck was broken into," said Sherrilyn Scott. Scott has lived in her Albany home for the past 27 years and none of her cars had ever been broken into.
The crime is a violation so extreme, victims said the incident is something they'll never forget.
"I work hard for the things that I've got," explained Scott. "It's not fair to me for my things to be broken into and stolen.
In late June, surveillance video caught thieves on camera in the Doublegate neighborhood.
Police officers said the crime is happening more often than people think. They said it's happening every day.
In June of this year, people reported to the Albany Police Department that they were broken into on 125 occasions.
That's 61 incidents above the monthly average for the past three years.
An easy target
"No neighborhood is inaccessible," explained Albany Police Detective Derrick Williams.
He and other detectives said many times break-ins happen because people leave their doors unlocked.
"You can't just depend on because nothing happened to me in the last 10 to 15 years, it won't happen to me this time. It will only take one time," said Williams.
Albany Police Detectives said they are working on a number of car break-in cases now.
"It's just that we've come complacent in the fact that something can't be stolen from us until it is taken from us," said APD Detective Chris Hutcherson:
In one Albany neighborhood, someone broke into eight cars in one night. Six of the cars were unlocked. The others resulted in busted windows.
What gets taken?
Stolen items range from money, to credit cards and electronics.
In many instances, thieves are taking something highly dangerous.
From 2014 through 2017 Albany Police found there are 10 items which have been targeted:
Cell phone chargers
Debit and credit cards
Insurance companies said people primarily claim when they have stolen guns.
"Everyday we get something in where someone's gun was stolen or four to five cases where a gun was stolen," explained Hutcherson.
It's been proven these guns are used in crimes.
On March 6, 2017, a Cobra 380 handgun was stolen from an unlocked car. 22 days later a Cobra 380 handgun was used during a shooting on Avalon Avenue.
"People who are law abiding citizens, we are basically supplying the streets with guns," said Hutcherson. "We go out and legally purchase our gun and want to keep it protect us, then someone steals it from us."
Detectives say it's simple. Don't leave your gun in your car.
"A gun, any kind of handgun, any kind of rifle. Take it in the house. When you go in for the night take it with you," explained Hutcherson.
Detectives said parked cars everywhere are easy targets for thieves.
Detectives said the grocery store is a great opportunity for suspects to take things out of your vehicle.
WALB walked around a Walmart parking lot with detectives. After a quick walk detectives spotted an endless number of valuables left in cars.
Some people tried to hide their purses in the floorboards of their cars, which detectives said don't do anything.
Other people left their windows cracked.
"When they cracked the windows, they didn't think about the fact that there is a purse here sitting in the passenger seat," explained Hutcherson as he pointed to a car with open windows.
Victims tell detectives leaving their cars unlocked were accidents.
They admit they've learned from their own mistakes, they hope others will learn too.
"I hope they can find them and if they do I want the book thrown at them," said Scott.
Albany Police Officers said they see more break-ins during the summer months.
Between January and May of this year, people reported 235 incidents. That is a decrease in the number of incidents from those months last year. There were 340 reported incidents.
This June there have been 125, up 63 incidents from last June.
In July so far this year, the number of reported incidents is already higher than last year.