OUACHITA PARISH (KTVE/KARD)— Authorities say vehicle burglaries in Ouachita Parish has increased over the past several weeks.  They say in almost all the reported burglaries, the cars have been unlocked making it easy to burglarize and the most common items taken have been firearms, which creates a serious problem for public and officer safety.

Note from local law enforcement:

“Those guns are now potentially in the hands of criminals and that makes everyone less safe. Some of these criminals will graduate from breaking into cars to committing armed robbery or worse” says Sheriff Jay Russell.

Citizens continue to become victims by leaving valuables in plain sight in unlocked vehicles. In most cases, the items have been stolen from vehicles parked at homes, unlocked and unattended during the night with valuable items left in them. In other cases, shoppers purchase a TV, computer, or other high-dollar electronic device at a retail store and then go directly to another retail business or restaurant without unloading their expensive merchandise. When they return to their car, an observant criminal has taken their valuables. We would like to ask citizens to follow these simple crime prevention steps to avoid being a victim of this crime.

As easy as this crime is to commit, it is even easier to help prevent just by taking these simple steps:

· Always lock your vehicle

· Do not invite a theft by leaving valuables such as firearms, GPS devices and laptop computers in plain sight inside the vehicle

· After shopping, lock items in the trunk or take the merchandise home

· At the end of your day, park your vehicle in the driveway or garage and take all valuables inside the house

· Be particularly aware when you are at a restaurant or gym because the perpetrators know you are going to be away from your vehicle for an extended period of time and will simply wait for you to go inside to break into your car

· For bank deposits or withdrawals, always alternate your times and routes, be aware of your surroundings, and never leave cash in the car unattended

The number of thefts from vehicles could be drastically reduced if we all commit to thinking ahead and making the necessary changes in our daily routine.

“It’s your duty to be a responsible gun owner. Just as you would properly store your gun in your home to keep your children safe, you must also take the necessary steps to secure your weapon in your vehicle,” says Monroe Police Chief Vic Zordan.

The Ouachita Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Monroe Police Department are dedicated to arresting as many of the perpetrators as possible; we would never ask a citizen to confront a criminal. We simply ask for citizens to help us by removing valuables from plain sight and locking their doors. Thank you for the opportunity to address this issue. Please, let’s all work together to make our City and Parish a safer environment in which to live and work.