Image courtesy of the Hoover Police Department.
Hoover Police Department
Hoover Police Department
The number of recent car break-ins may seem high to residents, but Captain Gregg Rector of the Hoover Police said the numbers are not out of the ordinary.
From Nov. 1 to Jan. 22, Rector said there were 115 reported vehicle break-ins. Like residents, he initially thought the thefts were increasing. After looking at the crime reports for 2013 and 2014, however, Rector realized that the break-ins are happening at roughly the same pace. In 2013, there were a total of 530 break-ins, averaging 44 per month. In 2014, there were 443 vehicle break-ins, or about 37 per month. The November-January crime rate, Rector said, averaged out to around 41 break-ins per month.
Vestavia Hills experienced 22 break-ins, Homewood experienced 36 and Mountain Brook experienced 20 during the same time frame. Vestavia and Mountain Brook police both said their numbers are not higher than normal, but Homewood is experiencing a surge.
There has been resident speculation that the break-ins are associated with a local gang, Goons Taking Over (GTO). Rector said the police are aware of GTO’s existence and its members’ tendency to break into unlocked vehicles to steal items or the cars themselves. However, the police have no evidence connecting GTO to these recent break-ins.
“GTO’s are probably best described as loosely organized street criminals who commit property crimes and prey on individuals whose property is not secured,” Rector said. “Residents can greatly reduce their chances of being the victim of any property criminal by simply locking their car doors and never leaving valuables in plain view.”
Bluff Park experienced a slightly higher concentration of these crimes, though they were also reported in the Riverchase, Deer Valley and Lorna Road areas. Rector said that since Dec. 1, the police department has made 10 arrests of suspects they believe are responsible for the majority of the break-ins. Of those arrested, five were connected to Bluff Park break-ins, two to Deer Valley, one to Lorna Road and two to Riverchase.
Three arrests were made in connection with an attempted car theft on Cottage Lane that resulted in shots being fired between the homeowner and burglar. Those suspects went on to steal a Mountain Brook man’s vehicle from West Jackson Boulevard.
“Car burglaries are typically not an easily solvable crime but we’ve really had a lot of success recently,” Rector said.
He attributed these arrests to residents noticing suspicious activity and alerting the police. Several suspects were found with stolen items in their possession.
“These arrests were perfect examples of citizens getting involved, recognizing suspicious activity and helping the police officers solve crimes. These arrests were possible because of community involvement,” Rector said.
To report suspicious activity, contact the Hoover Police at 822-5300.