Reports: Over half of vehicle break-ins involve unlocked cars

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 5:25 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 14, 2023 at 7:52 PM EST
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SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - With hundreds of vehicle break-ins happening every year in cities across the Lowcountry, the vast majority are from people leaving their doors unlocked, leaving folks wondering if it’s leading to more serious crime or taking officers away from other jobs.

“It’s a crime of opportunity,” Capt. Chris Hirsch of Summerville Police Department said. “It’s easy to do.”

The town of Summerville, the town of Mount Pleasant and the city of Charleston have the crime of vehicle break-ins in common, as well as how their statistics unfold.

From October of last year to this year, Summerville Police reported about 52% of their vehicle break-ins were from unlocked doors. From Jan. 1 to Oct. 10, Charleston Police said 72% of cars were unlocked. Mount Pleasant Police says they had give or take 82% unsecured vehicles in the months of September and October.

“That is shocking to see that many break-ins,” William Covington of the Weatherstone community in Summerville said.

However, Hirsch has a different perspective.

“It doesn’t shock me,” Hirsch said. “It seems to be a trend every year.”

In Summerville’s Weatherstone community, at least eight reported vehicles were broken into from July 9 through Sept. 9. Seven of them were unlocked. Some items stolen were AirPods, credit cards and even a machete.

“Now you have weapons that are involved and it can be one of those things where now they have a different mindset,” Covington said.

A report states two adults and two juveniles have since been arrested in connection to the Weatherstone break-ins. Leading to the arrest was a police chase and once they stopped, numerous items stolen were found in the car. Summerville Police also found loaded glocks.

The two adults, identified as Cleve Dubois and Jeremy Kostelak, are facing charges from failure to stop for blue lights, unlawful carry, open container and receiving stolen goods, amongst others. The two juveniles were released to their grandmother with potential charges pending further investigation, according to the arrest report.

Although an arrest was made, Covington says he’s seen folks as close as three miles on the NextDoor app who are still experiencing break-ins.

“We don’t locate people as much as we’d like,” Hirsch said. “We don’t catch all of them, but a lot of times we do catch them.”

Covington said people need to be more responsible and not welcome crime into the neighborhood.

“I’m calling you because I messed up and now you have to do all the leg work for me,” Covington said.

Hirsch added that depending on the incident, it can be time-consuming to respond to these calls because of the time it takes to dust for fingerprints, take the report and count what’s been stolen. He was asked if these sorts of negligent crimes are taking officers away from something more serious.

“We’re going to respond no matter what,” Hirsch said. “We don’t think this is taking away from other crimes because every crime is serious. We’re here to serve and protect and if anybody needs help or needs assistance, they can call us and we’re going to come respond to you.”

Summerville Police has a list of ways to prevent you from becoming the next victim:

  • Adding security cameras or an alarm system to your home or car.
  • Don’t keep valuable items in your car unattended.
  • With the holiday season in full swing, make sure you’re hiding all of the shopping bags in your trunk or stored away elsewhere when out and about.
  • Lock your doors.