Why car burglaries are up in Lynchburg, what police advise

A 10 News Crime Tracker report examines recent thefts

A 10 News Crime Tracker report shows there have been dozens of recent car burglaries in parts of our area. It’s a trend that usually surfaces during the summer, but this has been more than a mild summertime increase.

Lynchburg police say there were 44 car burglaries in about a three-week stretch in June. That’s up from an average of about 30 per month in the area.

Sgt. Gary Fink says most people just left their cars unlocked.

“That's the biggest thing,” Fink says. “They're not breaking windows. They're just trying door handles.”

July is National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month. Police have some advice, besides locking your car. They say people shouldn’t leave valuables in plain sight inside their car. When possible, it’s best to put shopping bags in the trunk and parking in well-lit areas can deter would-be thieves.

Police say if you know the serial number of electronic devices, an officer may find it later and return it.

If you are the victim of a burglary, police say it’s important to report it. Police in Lynchburg are using maps to see if crimes are concentrated in certain areas. That can help police on patrol know what to look for. In June, the most concentrated group of thefts from cars was in the south part of town, between Lynchburg College and Liberty University.

They say to not touch anything until police get there. They can often lift fingerprints off door handles.

Insurance can be an option. Roanoke State Farm Insurance agent Dan Presley says many people don’t know that car insurance doesn’t cover items someone steals from inside a car. That would fall under a property policy.

“Either a homeowners or renters (policy) will provide coverage for your personal belongings pretty much anywhere they are in the world,” Presley said.

Thefts from cars increased 18 percent statewide in 2016 compared to 2015, according to stats released late last month.

In our 10 News Crime Tracker series, we investigate crime trends and topics affecting our communities and give you tips on how to stay safe. You can see reports Monday and Wednesday at 6 p.m. on WSLS 10.

If you have any tips for us, you can email Tommy Lopez at tlopez@wsls.com.