Rash of auto thefts reported in Hancock County

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hancock County authorities are investigating a rash of auto burglaries.

Thefts of items including cash, guns, cameras, jewelry and other valuables from vehicles that have often been left unlocked have been reported in Waveland and Bay St. Louis.

Hancock County Sheriff’s Department chief investigator Kenny Hurt said 35 auto theft cases have been reported in unincorporated Diamondhead in the last two weeks.

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Hurt said burglaries continue despite the arrest of 11 suspects, all under the age of 16.

“There has been a rash of car burglaries all over the county and both cities,” said Waveland Police Chief James Varnell.

Varnell said Waveland had seven car burglary reports recently, with five occurring in the past week. In one Waveland case, he said, thieves had smashed a rear window to enter a car and the owner found a front door standing open. The burglars stole two guns — a two-shot Derringer and a .40-caliber Glock handgun — as well as $15,300 in cash. A 14-carat gold bracelet with tiger stones also was stolen from the same car, Varnell said.

Since Mississippi law treats someone’s car as an extension of the home, it is not illegal for citizens to have guns in their cars.

Authorities say the thefts are not being limited to automobiles.

A Bay St. Louis resident reported seeing a four-wheeler being stolen from his house. The man went outside just in time to see the four-wheeler being loaded into a white van with a ramp and driven away.

Interim Bay St. Louis Police Chief Tom Burleson could not be reached for comment Monday.