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Picayune Police warn about rash of vehicle burglaries

The Picayune Police Department issued a warning on its Facebook page Sunday alerting the public that a rash of vehicle burglaries has been occurring in the city. The warning advised citizens to be extra cautious and lock their doors.

“We have had a number of weapons stolen from vehicles as well as cash and electronics. The only thing these vehicle burglaries have in common – they are all unlocked,” the post states.

Assistant Chief Jeremy Magri said that on Aug. 20, a vehicle parked along the 6000 block of Woods Road was burglarized and a 40-caliber Taurus handgun was stolen. The next day, on the 3,000th block of Woods Road, a black 45-caliber pistol was stolen from a vehicle.

Two days later, on Aug. 23, a vehicle on the 1400 block of Bender Street was burglarized of more than $120 and various paperwork. Finally, on Aug. 25, a 15-inch subwoofer in a custom box was stolen out of a vehicle on the 400 block of Bay Street.

Magri said all of the vehicles were unlocked. While these are just a few examples, Magri said it is common for the department to respond to a vehicle burglary nearly every day in various places around the city.

Picayune Police Chief Bryan Dawsey said the department receives reports of vehicle burglaries periodically during the year. He said once they solve one, it is usually easy to solve all of them, since the crimes are typically connected in some way.

Dawsey said the culprit typically walks from car to car pulling on door handles until one finally opens. Then, they will go through the car and look for anything valuable. Dawsey said thieves will take anything from handbags, guns and electronics, to sunglasses and clothing. He said they typically look for anything they can sell, so they will take just about anything that may be of value.

Dawsey said these are crimes of opportunity. In other words, they usually won’t break a window to get to something. In fact, about 95 percent of the vehicle burglaries the department has worked invovled valuables being left in the vehicle, he said. As a result, the best way to prevent a vehicle burglary is to not leave anything of value in an unlocked vehicle, Dawsey said. If taking valuables along isn’t an option for some reason, lock them in the trunk, he said.

Dawsey said there are several ways to tell if a vehicle has been burglarized. Thieves will often rummage through the glove compartment or console and leave paperwork or trash scattered around, or they will leave the door ajar so they don’t draw attention by closing it.

If someone suspects their vehicle has been burglarized, call the police immediately and don’t touch anything inside, Dawsey said. He said sometimes people will go through their car to see what has been stolen and contaminate the scene. The best way to handle a suspected burglary is to wait for police to process the scene, he said.

“We want to remind every citizen to always lock your vehicle and always take your valuables inside. Don’t let yourself become the victim of a crime,” Dawsey said.