In rash of burglaries, many autos left unlocked

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 23, 2010

A string of car burglaries plaguing the city and county is nearly a year old, and authorities say they have made 27 arrests in the 568 reported hits.

The burglaries and arrests date to February and run through the beginning of this year. All but one of the arrests carried multiple charges, officials said.

“We’ve seen a rise in the county, as with the city,” said Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

This week, two were reported Friday on Sky Farm Avenue, and three more were reported Sunday and Monday on Manchester Drive and Culkin and Dunigan roads. Three were reported a week ago, last Saturday, on Manship Circle, Bellaire Drive and Drummond Street.

The auto burglaries are happening in neighborhoods and at businesses and hotels.

Walter Armstrong, police chief in Vicksburg since July, said he believes the hits at businesses and hotels are being committed by people from other areas.

“We believe there’s a ring coming from out of town,” he said.

In many cases, officials said, thieves merely walk down a street checking for unlocked vehicles and either ransack them or take items. Valuables are often left in plain sight, Pace said.

“The majority involved valuables, including firearms, left in unlocked vehicles,” he said.

“The public can avoid becoming victims if they lock their doors and don’t leave valuables in their vehicle,” Pace said, adding that only about seven of the 87 auto burglaries reported in the county in 2009 showed forced entry.

“We’re giving thieves an opportunity to get our goods,” Armstrong said. “We’re leaving our keys in our vehicles.”

Examples of the stolen items are video game consoles, weapons, purses, wallets, GPS units and cash. Police are comparing collected evidence to other auto burglaries to identify possible suspects, said Vicksburg police Lt. Bobby Stewart, chief of investigations.

Additionally, Armstrong said, patrols have been set up in various areas attempting to deter burglaries, but, “within minutes of us leaving, we will get a call back.”

Warren County deputies also have increased patrols, routinely stopping vehicles seen moving about late at night, Pace said.

“Thieves come to the scene in vehicles, and they leave in vehicles,” said Pace. “They don’t walk away.”

Offenders have received charges including possession of stolen property, auto burglary, possession of a stolen weapon and possession of a weapon by a felon.

In the 568 auto burglaries reported since Feb. 26, 15 arrests have been made in the county, and 12 in the city.

Pace said the most common suspects in the county are juveniles. In the city, Stewart said, police have arrested a mix of juveniles and adults in their early 20s.

In the city, six of the arrests in cases handled by police in 2009 were juvenile cases that have been cleared through Youth Court, Stewart said. Of the five adults arrested in 2009, one has been sentenced; two cases are open and pending with no set trial date; one has been scheduled for a March trial; and one is pending indictment. The status of the one arrest made this year was unknown.

Information on the status of the 15 arrests in the county were not available.

One set of arrests involving four teenagers solved 20 burglaries in the city and county, Pace said.

Stewart said eight arrests made in the city represented 42 burglaries, and the rest were for single hits.


Contact Tish Butts at