Detective Tim Harvey with the Albany Police Department, left, and Detective George Barber participated in a news conference at the Law Enforcement Center downtown. (Staff Photo: Jim West)
ALBANY — Officials of the Albany Police Department are trying to drive home a message to area residents: Don’t leave purses, guns and other valuables in your car. Take them with you.
Albany Police say have seen a dramatic increase in illegal vehicle entries over the several weeks, with 36 such entries over the past 14 days, officials say. Twenty-four of those cases involved unlocked vehicles, officers say.
“We try to tell people, please don’t leave your valuables in your cars, but people are continuing to do so,” said Detective Tim Harvey with the APD.
Harvey said that while more people are buying guns for their protection, they’re leaving them in their cars, and that can cause real problems when they’re stolen.
“Nine times out of ten, these guns are being sold to other criminals to be used in shootings, murders or robberies,” Harvey said. “Keep them with you or locked up in your house. It’s not protecting anybody inside your car.”
Harvey said that gun owners without a permit to carry a weapon should obtain one, rather than leaving the weapon their vehicle.
Detective George Barber with the financial theft unit of the APD said when thieves find personal information inside wallets and purses, often they can rob you of your identity and open accounts and make purchases in your name.
“We’ve had situations where individuals have taken that information and bought cars with it,” Barber said.
Phyllis Banks, spokeswoman for the APD, said the epidemic of auto entries is “across the board,” occurring in all sections of the city almost equally.
“Parking lots are really targeted,” Banks said. “and that’s all businesses, churches, nightclubs, apartment complexes and restaurants.”
Banks said that if anyone suspicious is seen to be around an area with cars, the Albany Police should be called at (229) 431-2132.