ALBANY, Ga. -- Apparently local citizens are leaving their car doors open, almost inviting thieves to steal purses, wallets and many times knives, handguns, rifles and shotguns from vehicles.
"We want people to lock their doors," Albany Police Department Sgt. Edward Heath said Thursday. "People are leaving doors open and putting their guns under the driver's seat. That is the first place (thieves) look."
In a 30-day tally of entering auto complaints in Albany ending Wednesday, people reported 65 incidents. In those cases, 24 purses were stolen. In the vast majority of those thefts, the thief just opened the unlocked door, grabbed a purse and ran off.
iPods, car electronics, handheld gaming systems, clothes and tools were also stolen during the rash of break-ins during the last 30 days.
"These incidents occurred in both residential and commercial locations," said Phyllis Banks, a police spokeswoman. "The majority of the residential incidents occurred during evening hours. The majority of commercial incidents occurred during the day."
People seem to think that parking their cars at home is safe, Heath said. It isn't.
"The majority of incidents happened in the West District and the north part of the Central District," Heath noted.
The theft of weapons is particularly worrisome, said Detective Tim Harvey. Those weapons could be used in robberies and other criminal activities, even murder.
"This is deer-hunting season," Harvey said, "and hunters are coming home after a hunt and leaving their rifles sitting in view in their vehicles when they go inside their homes."
Lee County is far from immune to thefts from vehicles, said Sherriff's Office Chief Deputy Lewis Harris.
"I've been preaching this forever," Harris said. "They are out there looking for an easy hit (an unlocked vehicle). Lock your doors, secure your valuables."