WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Vehicle break-ins are on the rise in Winston-Salem, but if last year tells us anything, thieves are about to ramp up their activity during the holiday season.
“They just take the opportunity and go with it,” said Officer K.A. Kirkman, of the Winston-Salem Police Department, as he investigated a stolen vehicle Monday morning.
From Jan. 1, to Thanksgiving Day 2016, Winston-Salem police say there were 1,791 auto break-in/larcenies from motor vehicles in the city. However, from Black Friday of 2016 to the end of the year, the department investigated 245 of the crimes.
“In the Hanes Mall area, and on the north side near the Walmart area up there, you see it every day,” Kirkman said.
From Jan 1, to Thanksgiving Day of this year, there were 2,201 auto break-in/larcenies from motor vehicles in Winston-Salem. Officers have investigated at least 17 of the crimes since Black Friday of this year.
“It can happen at a retail location, you can live in a residential neighborhood,” Kirkman added.
Police continue to warn that vehicle break-ins are a crime of opportunity and only take seconds to commit.
“Go out in the morning, start your car, turn around go in get your cup of coffee, go out, your car’s gone,” Kirkman said. “You’re like, ‘Who walks by here?’ That one person did.”
Officers encourage hiding valuables and heightening awareness both at home and in shopping centers to deter and prevent crimes.
Of all the break-ins in the city, officers say the vast majority are the result of vehicles being left unlocked.
“Very rarely do we have a car that’s actually broken into,” Kirkman said. “It’s unlocked, or you’ve left it outside warming up in the morning.”