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Police Urge Citizens To Be Vigilant

Vidalia police are watching out for residents who could be targets for burglaries and car thefts, but they need citizens to help them do their jobs.

“We just want people to help us protect them,” said Captain Roger Callaway, who heads the Investigations Division at the Vidalia Police Department.

He said the department has seen a slight increase recently in the number of break-ins— both with residences and vehicles—and police are urging residents to be vigilant. “We have extra patrols on the streets who are watching for any sus- continued from page

picious activity in various neighborhoods. They are often in unmarked cars,” he said. Police have observed that would-be criminals often work in pairs and are sometimes dropped off in areas to canvas for potential marks then picked up by their accomplices.

“They are looking for unlocked cars that are parked in driveways or open garages or carports and, after targeting easy marks, usually come back at night to actually break in when everyone is asleep and no lights are on,” Callaway said.

In the last few weeks, police have investigated several cases involving car break-ins and burglaries, but no arrests were made. In one incident, police suspect a group of teenagers looking for a joy ride made off with a truck with keys left in the ignition. The truck was recovered later but the culprits were long gone. “It is hard to connect the criminals to the crime, even with video,” Callaway said. Perpetrators wear masks and gloves. “They know how to cover their tracks.” Surveillance systems are great if the quality is good. “Make sure the system is high-quality with infrared capabilities for recording at night,” Callaway said. Often, video is so poor that features cannot be distinguished. To complicate the situation ever further, it is not unusual for people to be wearing masks now, so reliable identification is difficult to achieve.

“I have been a victim myself. I had a generator stolen that was chained down,” Callaway said, illustrating that criminals can be profoundly determined to achieve their objective. But there are ways to discourage a thief.

He advises, “Don’t leave cars unlocked, and definitely do not leave keys on the console. If possible, park a car inside a closed and locked garage. Do not leave valuables in clear sight. Thieves love for laptops to be left on the car seat.” Gameboys and televisions are also popular items with thieves.

Leaving on exterior floodlights, or having lights that come on when motion is detected is another deterrent. “Thieves don’t like to see lights on inside or outside the house.”

“Write down serial numbers for items in the home and keep them in a safe place. Removing a serial number from an item is a crime and these items cannot be pawned,” he said. Everyone who pawns an item in a pawn shop has their photo made and police regularly check pawn tickets to monitor for stolen property.

“Yesterday, I had four investigators out riding and looking for suspicious activity,” Callaway said, but he is hoping the public will do their part in keeping the community safer. Any information helping to solve crimes in the City of Vidalia is greatly appreciated and helps keep our community safe for everyone, Callaway said. All calls are kept confidential. Citizens who have any information that could help solve a crime are asked to call CRIMESTOPPERS at 912-386-4480.

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