ALBANY, Ga. -- Entering auto crimes peppered crime reports during the past two days as criminals were involved in almost two dozen cases of taking items from parked cars.
The Albany Police Department Wednesday reports show 14 entering auto burglaries and the Dougherty County Police Department reported six entering auto and related crimes such as a residential burglary on its Wednesday report.
Particularly hit by the crimes were the 2600 block of Erica Court in the city and the Hidden Lakes Drive area in the county.
"We have increased patrols in the area," said Dougherty County Police Department Assistant Chief C.J. Battle. "Right now we don't know who they are. We are looking at everything out there. They could be juveniles."
Considering that thieves stole a gun from a vehicle on the 4800 block of Grandview Drive, at least one resident in the area suspected the thieves might be gang members.
Steve McGowan said the Sunday murder of a gang member at the Shackelford Shopping Center probably by other gang members may have set the stage for the thefts.
"They stole a gun," McGowan said. "They didn't take anything else but a surveyor's tool that looked like it had a gun sight on it. There is no doubt they were looking for guns."
According to the county police reports, a wallet and an iPod were also taken from one of the vehicles. One neighbor, who had the driver's side window of his vehicle smashed in by the thieves and lost the surveyor's tool, said the thefts could be a gang initiation.
"Surprisingly they didn't touch my cordless drill, or the tools in the tool box," Ben Barrow said. "I only had one thing missing."
Apparently, a stolen golf cart was used to drive the thieves from one residence to another. The cart was recovered.
"We were able to see golf cart tracks from one yard to another," Battle said. "As I said right now we don't know much but we are actively investigating."
Law enforcement personnel have been encouraging residents to lock their vehicle doors for years. Police also said nothing of value, especially guns, should be stored in the vehicles.
"Entering auto thefts send our larceny statistics way up," said Phyllis Banks Albany police spokeswoman. "Never leave a gun in your vehicle and always lock the doors."