Following multiple reports of entering auto incidents in the past month from residents of apartment complexes and neighborhoods stretching from Fair Road to South Main Street, Statesboro Police recently made several arrests in connection with some of the incidents.
In a release from the Statesboro Police Department Tuesday afternoon, Capt. Jared Akins said they incidents occurred late at night and yielded little in the way of evidence or traceable property.
“Officers and detectives worked the cases and, over the past several days, got the breaks they needed to clear a number of these cases,” Akins said.
This past Friday, Nov. 12, Patrol officers in the area of Statesboro Place Circle observed a vehicle matching the description of one stolen during a number of entering auto incidents in the area a few days earlier, Akins said. The officer located and detained a 13-year-old juvenile walking away from the car.
Subsequent investigation by detectives led to the charging of the juvenile with 16 Entering Auto counts, one count of Theft by Taking-Motor Vehicle, and one count of Financial Transaction Card Fraud. These incidents involving the 13-year-old were reported between Nov. 9 and Nov. 12 in Cambridge the Palms Apartments, The Connection Apartments and Copper Beech Apartments.
The juvenile was transported to the Claxton Regional Youth Detention Center pending further judicial action.
On Saturday, two juveniles -- ages14 and 15 – residing at a care home for troubled youths on Marvin Avenue, were observed by staff outside the home concealing two handguns under a shed.
Akins said Patrol officers responded and recovered the guns.
“A subsequent investigation linked the two juveniles to three entering autos, which occurred in the area over the prior week,” Akins said.
Both juveniles were charged with three counts of Entering Auto and two counts of Possession of a Handgun by Persons under the Age of 18. They were transported to the Claxton Regional Youth Detention Center, as well.
On Tuesday, detectives following up on evidence from a stolen vehicle/entering auto case reported on Nov. 2 at the Hudson Apartments searched an apartment on Rucker Lane. Akins said the vehicle had been recovered near that apartment on Nov. 5, and video surveillance obtained by detectives showed the victim’s credit cards being used by two females.
Further video footage linked two female suspects to the Rucker Lane apartment and the stolen vehicle. Akins said the search of the Rucker Lane apartment led to the arrest of 20-year-old Amber Sanders of Rucker Lane and 17-year-old Jamyah Barnes of South Main Street, on one count of Theft by Taking-Motor Vehicle and four counts of Financial Transaction Card Fraud.
They admitted committing entering autos that same night but no victims had filed reports to document the thefts, Akins said. Both were transported to the Bulloch County Jail for processing.
About 90% of reported entering auto cases in the City of Statesboro involve unlocked vehicles, Akins said.
“Criminal groups that once used drug sales as their primary source of income now send juveniles, who will face lesser consequences if caught than an adult would, to commit entering autos.”
Akins said investigations into various entering autos committed by groups other than the ones named above have led to the recovery of a number of firearms recently in searches carried out by detectives and members of the SPD’s Impact Team.
Those firearms have been found in conjunction with quantities of marijuana at the sites searched.
“This further highlights the connections between criminal groups, entering autos, stolen firearms, and the local drug trade,” he said.
“Entering auto is an almost entirely preventable crime,” Akins said. “Criminals want to be stealthy, not draw attention to themselves by breaking glass windows. We urge you to always lock your doors and remove valuables, especially firearms and keys, from the vehicle each night.
“Many groups want to take advantage of the public’s complacency to make quick money. Our officers can’t be everywhere at once, and your help could dramatically reduce the easy pickings these groups have enjoyed up to this point.”