Car burglaries in Summit County are up more than 100% in the past month compared to last year at this time. In the past 30 days, there have been 19 car burglaries, and in the same span of time last year, there were only 8, according to Lieutenant Andrew Wright with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. He said now the Sheriff’s Office is depending on the community to do their part.
“We need our community to help protect themselves,” Wright said. “What we're seeing on a regular basis is people are leaving valuables in their cars, they're oftentimes leaving wallets full of credit cards, they're leaving keys to their vehicles sitting in their driveway or in their garage with their garage door opened or unlocked. And it is allowing for these criminals to come during the night and get into their vehicle.”
He said — based on preliminary numbers — car burglaries aren’t the only increase in crime they’ve seen.
“It's been an interesting last eight months with this whole pandemic,” he said. “Theft in general, in the county, we had seen a 100% increase, double the amount of cases of theft than we did a year ago at this time, this was maybe six weeks ago.”
Wright said in the past 30-days there have been 7 reported auto thefts, and in the same time frame last year there were none.
He said the stress of the pandemic could be a factor.
“A lot of people have lost their jobs,” he said. “When people lose jobs, unfortunately, some people it's a very small percentage of the population, but people revert to substance abuse. And when they have substance abuse issues, oftentimes they revert to criminal conduct to support their habits. People get desperate during times like this, and unfortunately we've seen an increase in crime.”
And it doesn’t help that there are less deputies out patrolling now.
“We have very limited resources, especially now through the pandemic, we have frozen positions within the county, including our patrol division,” he said. “So we are not only are we strapped on personnel, but we have seen an increase in crimes happen this year throughout the pandemic.”
Wright says the car thefts and burglaries are likely tied to the same people.
“It's just a matter of us getting information quick enough and finding enough evidence whether it's through video surveillance through items left behind, or us actually catching up to the people responsible for us to put a stop to the trend that's going on,” he said.
In the meantime, Wright suggests members of the community lock their cars and take out any valuables.