Entering autos is a crime of opportunity which is on the rise nationally. Individuals or groups, working neighborhoods or apartment complexes at night, can check the door handles on dozens of vehicles in a short period of time with little risk of discovery.
Once they find an unlocked vehicle, they target primarily unsecured firearms and items which are difficult or impossible to trace, like change and cash. Vehicles left with keys in them can be stolen as well. 90% of reported entering auto cases in the City of Statesboro involve unlocked vehicles.
Criminal groups who once used drug sales as their primary source of income now send juveniles (who, if caught, will face lesser consequences than an adult) to commit entering autos.
Over the last two months, multiple reports of entering auto were reported by residents of apartment complexes and neighborhoods stretching from Fair Road to South Main Street.
They occurred late at night and yielded little in the way of evidence or traceable property. Several firearms were taken also.
Officers and detectives worked these cases and, over the past several days, got the breaks they needed to clear a number of them.
Cambridge, The Connection and Copper Beach
On November 12, 2021 Statesboro Police Department patrol officers in the area of Statesboro Place Circle observed a vehicle matching the description of one stolen during a cluster of entering autos in the area days prior. The officer located and detained a 13 year old juvenile walking away from the car.
Subsequent investigation by detectives led to the charging of the juvenile with 16 Entering Auto counts, one count of Theft by Taking-Motor Vehicle, and one count of Financial Transaction Card Fraud. These incidents were reported between November 9 and November 12, 2021 in Cambridge—the Palms Apartments, The Connection Apartments, and Copper Beech Apartments. The juvenile was transported to the Claxton Regional Youth Detention Center pending further judicial action.
Marvin Avenue area
On November 12, 2021, two juveniles (14 and 15) residing at a care home for troubled youths on Marvin Avenue were observed by staff outside the home concealing two handguns under a shed. Patrol officers responded and recovered the guns. Subsequent investigation linked the two juveniles to three entering autos which occurred in the area over the prior week. Both juveniles were charged with three counts of Entering Auto and two counts of Possession of a Handgun by Persons under the Age of 18. They were transported to the Claxton Regional Youth Detention Center as well.
On November 15, 2021, detectives following up on evidence from a stolen vehicle/entering auto case reported on November 2, 2021 at the Hudson Apartments searched an apartment on Rucker Lane. The vehicle had been recovered near that apartment on November 5, 2021, and video surveillance obtained by detectives showed the victim’s credit cards being used by two females. Further video footage linked the two female suspects to the Rucker Lane apartment and the stolen vehicle.
The search of the Rucker Lane apartment led to the arrest of Amber Sanders (20 years old, Rucker Lane, Statesboro) and Jamyah Barnes (17 years old, South Main Street, Statesboro) on one count of Theft by Taking-Motor Vehicle and four counts of Financial Transaction Card Fraud. They admitted committing entering autos that same night but no victims had filed reports to document the thefts. Both were transported to the Bulloch County Jail for processing.
Criminal Group Connections
Investigation into various other entering autos committed by groups other than the ones named above have recently led to the recovery of a number of firearms in searches carried out by detectives and members of the SPD’s Impact Team. Those firearms have been found in conjunction with quantities of marijuana at the sites searched. This further highlights the connections between criminal groups, entering autos, stolen firearms, and the local drug trade.
Entering auto is an almost entirely preventable crime. Criminals want to be stealthy, not draw attention to themselves by breaking glass windows. We urge you to always lock your doors and remove valuables, especially firearms and keys, from the vehicle each night. Many groups want to take advantage of the public’s complacency to make quick money. Our officers can’t be everywhere at once, and your help could dramatically reduce the easy pickings these groups have enjoyed up to this point.