Jennyne Pinter, email@example.com
A series of car burglaries have struck Bossier Parish since the start of the year.
Since Jan. 1, there have been 33 break-ins predominantly in subdivisions and apartment complexes.
The Lakewood subdivision and Gray Lake Drive in the Princeton community being most recently affected.
Maj. Charles Gray of the Bossier Parish Criminal Division has been overseeing these investigations.
“Bossier Parish is a safe place to live and to work, but there’s nothing stopping people from coming over, wishing to do things that break the law. So we need to be alert and aware of the type of society that is going on today. You have to live, not in fear, but you have to be aware of your surroundings and that means securing your valuables.”
Gray said to not leave things out in the open in your vehicle.
“You’re enticing people to (break in) by leaving a gun, an iPad, or your purse with money in it,” he said.
Gray says that there has been recovery of some of the stolen items and some arrests made. These crimes are being committed by various offenders, ranging from individuals to group and ages spanning from the teens into some people in their 40s.
There has been some video surveillance taken of the criminal(s) in the act, however it can be very difficult to determine the age or gender of the criminal, let alone get positive identification due to the person’s clothing and poor lighting.
As far as the perpetrators of these break-ins, Major Gray says that “The majority of them are male, though we did have one boyfriend/girlfriend couple. We’ve got one (suspect) on our latest burglary, but we actually don’t have him in custody yet, so we can’t talk too much about him, but we’ve got some good information on that.”
Aside from people’s belongings being stolen, car theft itself has also been an occurrence.
“We had one the other night,” Gray remarked, “a vehicle was unlocked with the keys in the ignition.”
Lt. Bill Davis, Bossier Parish Sheriff Office public information officer added, “And it (the car) had a big welcome sign, saying ‘Please take me.’”
Gray and Davis agree that it is prudent for civilians to start trying to think like a criminal as they move about their surroundings. Simple things such as noticing if your car is unlocked; and if so, identify items that someone want to take. Electronics, weapons, perhaps even a garage door opener that could give them access to your home. And in the case of stealing the whole vehicle, the criminal views the car differently that we do.
“We are rational thinkers. But you sometimes get people that have that criminal element and they don’t think like we do,” Gray explained. “It’s hard to look at that door and sit there and work it out in your mind how you’re going to break into it. We look at a car and think ‘That’s a pretty car, my wife or my child would love to have a car like that.’ A criminal looks at it and thinks, ‘Alright...I need a slim jim, and what can I do with them rims?’”
“The most common car thief will take the car for further criminal purposes such as drive-bys and armed robberies. They might come over here (Bossier) to steal a vehicle to commit crimes in Shreveport. And a lot of what we’ve had stolen here lately has been found in Shreveport. And that way, the vehicle won’t trace back to them.”
Lt. Davis encourages people not only to try to think like a criminal, but to take it a step further.
“Just walk on your sidewalk and look at your house, your car. Go up to your car and pull the door handle. I don’t want to say just think like a criminal, you almost have to behave like one because they are out there. To put your head in the sand and think, ’It’s not going to happen in my pristine neighborhood,’ is a falsehood.”
On the bright side, both men agree that car burglaries are one of the very easiest crimes to prevent by simply locking your doors. Though many think of a car break-in as a smash-and grab type scenario, that is far from the truth. In fact, it has been over two years since the last physical break-in of a vehicle in Bossier Parish that was actually locked.
The police are also encouraging anyone who does have surveillance video to check those tapes and notice if anyone is seen checking the handle of a door or peaking into a car’s windows. If this footage is provided to the authorities, that same person might have successfully stolen from another car a few doors down.
“I’ve been burglarized in my home twice,” said Davis. “That’s very intimate, someone’s in my space. And your car is your personal space and you’d know that someone has been in that space that you did not invite.”
“We want folks to keep their belongings that they worked hard to get. Don’t make it easy for the criminal to take what you’ve worked hard to earn,” Davis proclaimed. “Lock it. Hide it. Keep it.”