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Thieves seek out unlocked car doors

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Posted: Tuesday, December 7, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:20 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Holly Wise

Killeen Daily Herald

COPPERAS COVE - An arrest was made Friday in connection with a string of vehicle burglaries that occurred in the early morning hours in the House Creek North subdivision, according to the Copperas Cove Police Department.

Fourteen vehicles were reportedly burglarized between 2:20 a.m. and 8:07 a.m. on Joseph, Merle, Curtis, Boyd, Markos, Gail and Jake drives.

Andrew Devon Johnson was arrested at 8:36 a.m. - the only arrest made as of Monday in connection with the crimes, said CCPD Sgt. Julie Lehman. Johnson was released Friday on an undisclosed bond.

Diana Case was one of the victims of the burglaries.

"I think a lot of it was the coincidence of it happening when we didn't lock our vehicles," she said. "They were just looking to see which vehicles were unlocked."

Case said a police officer alerted her to the burglaries and asked her to check if her vehicle was hit. A global positioning system valued at $150 was reported stolen.

"The biggest message I can give is to make sure vehicles are locked," Case said. "That's the biggest thing, is to make sure everything's locked up and out of sight."

Twenty-one vehicle burglaries have been reported so far in December, with a total value of items stolen at $6,115.

According to the Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority, more than half of the reported 285,000 acts of vehicle burglary and 76,000 stolen vehicles statewide in 2009 occurred because vehicle doors were unlocked and keys were left inside.

"We want everyone to enjoy the holiday season and not experience the violation and frustration of having their vehicles burglarized or stolen," said Charles Caldwell, director of the Texas ABTPA. "We encourage all vehicle owners and operators to help prevent such crimes by practicing simple theft prevention measures."

By removing belongings from view, locking vehicles and taking the keys, vehicle owners can protect themselves against these crimes, according to the ABTPA.

In Copperas Cove, the first five days of December have seen 21 vehicle burglaries, four thefts, two burglaries of a habitation and one robbery, with a total value of items stolen reportedly $31,514.

A total of five robberies, 10 burglaries, 38 thefts and five burglaries of a vehicle were reported in November. The total value of items and/or money stolen was $219,440.35.

According to the police department's annual report, there were 93 thefts in November 2009, making it the month with the greatest number of thefts. There were 25 burglaries and no reported robberies.

Michelle Lanham, program manager for ABTPA's Reduce Auto Theft in Texas public awareness task force at the University of North Texas Dallas Caruth Police Institute, urges everyone to be mindful of vehicle security during the holiday season.

"We know auto burglars scout malls, shopping centers, and other business parking lots this time of year looking for opportunities to break into vehicles," he said. "Within seconds, these criminals can get inside a car, steal the contents and be on their way."

Like Case, residents can become comfortable in their surroundings and unknowingly place themselves at risk. Case said her vehicles are never left unlocked and the night of the burglaries was an exception - a mistake she didn't realize was made until it was too late.

"If anything it's made us more aware," she said.

Contact Holly Wise at hwise@kdhnews.com or (254)501-7474.

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