Several guns have been stolen of late from vehicles in Milledgeville and Baldwin County.
There have been more than 145 cases of entering an auto in the city of Milledgeville alone since January.
That’s a big concern for local law enforcement authorities.
Authorities are even noticing an increase in stolen vehicles in both the city and county. In some of those cases, the vehicle owners left the keys inside the ignition, making it easier for the thief to simply start it and drive off.
Within a matter of weeks, the same vehicle was stolen from a local college student — not once but twice — because the owner left the car keys in the ignition, according to Milledgeville Police Chief Dray Swicord. In both cases, police recovered the vehicle.
The police chief said car thieves targeted apartment complexes and other residential places with a high volume of vehicles.
Many such thefts could be avoided: Just don’t forget to take the car keys out of the ignition and lock the vehicle, Swicord said.
Another alarming problem in what police refer to as “entering an auto” is the number of guns and other valuables being stolen from vehicles.
Authorities say the owners of vehicles with valuables left inside are only asking for trouble.
A recent rash of vehicle break-ins is keeping officers with the Milledgeville Police Department, as well as deputies with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office busy. And the problem doesn’t appear to be getting any better, according to incident reports from both city and county law enforcement agencies.
Although the number of such thefts is concerning to authorities because the majority of them could be prevented, they are more concerned about the number of guns being stolen from vehicles.
It poses a real threat that legally-owned guns could be used in crimes.
Swicord estimates that 90 percent of the vehicles that get reported as broken into in the city limits of Milledgeville were left unlocked with the keys inside them.
“We’ve probably had six vehicles stolen within the last month or so,” Swicord said.
Guns aren’t the only valuables being stolen from vehicles in the city and county.
Other valuables, such as laptop computers, cellphones, money and other items also are being stolen, Swicord said.
The police chief has some helpful advice for vehicle owners who leave valuables in their vehicles, even though it’s not the most advisable thing to do.
“If you’re going to leave valuables inside your vehicle, at least put them out of view and lock your car or truck,” Swicord said. “The best scenario is if you’ve got a weapon, take it out when you get out of the vehicle.”
Swicord said the best advice he can offer anyone is for the owners of vehicles to lock them and remove any valuables from their vehicles when getting out of them.