Deputies warn of ‘carhopping’ thieves, urge simple steps to stop them

Deputies warn of ‘carhopping’ thieves, urge simple steps to stop them
Dorchester County deputies released this surveillance still taken May 15 in the Wentworth Hall area where several vehicles were burglarized. (Source: Dorchester County Sheriff's Office)

DORCHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County deputies say thieves targeted several neighborhoods in the past few weeks looking for unlocked vehicles to steal from.

The crime, they say in a Facebook post, is called “carhopping.”

Deputies released this surveillance image in March from a string of vehicle break-ins in The Bluffs.
Deputies released this surveillance image in March from a string of vehicle break-ins in The Bluffs. (Source: Dorchester County Sheriff's Office)

“Carhopping occurs when criminals, juvenile and adult, roam neighborhoods at night, pulling on car door handles, hoping to find an open vehicle,” the post states.

Deputies call it a “numbers game” because for every 10 cars a criminal checks, they will likely find a few unlocked, meaning there is no need to physically break a window or door lock to get in.

The post states 98.4 percent of the reported break-ins in the county this year involve unlocked vehicles.

The problem is not unique to Dorchester County. Recent Facebook posts from the Berkeley and Georgetown County Sheriff’s Offices have reported similar incidents.

The post on the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page includes a photo of a car parked at night with the ominous text, “Someone is going to attempt to get in your car tonight.”

The post offers these steps to prevent yourself from being a victim:

  • Always lock your unoccupied vehicles
  • Remove your valuable items and any extra set of keys from the vehicle
  • If you keep a gun in your vehicle, bring it inside at night
  • Double-check to make sure your car is locked before going to bed at night.
  • Make sure valuable items you can’t remove from your car are out of sight
  • Get those outside lights on

Deputies ask anyone who notices suspicious activity to call 911. Dorchester County residents can call 843-873-5111.

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