VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach Police tell 10 On Your Side a rash of recent car break-ins is alarming.
Melissa Johnston, a public information officer with VBPD, said as of Tuesday, more than 20 car break-in reports have come to the police department.
She said the thieves are stealing residents’ valuables.
“People have been going into cars that are unlocked, rummaging around and taking anything they can find, to include some handguns and property from citizens,” Johnston said.
The Ashville Park neighborhood off of Princess Anne Road has been a target of these thieves. One resident told 10 On Your Side it’s a problem.
“It very much concerns me,” she said. “Cars were being rummaged through, broken into and that sort of thing,” Michelle Fitzpatrick said.
She said she heard about the break-ins through the neighborhood Facebook group.
Fitzpatrick said it’s not just cars being broken into.
“Their cars have been keyed. I have seen where they have sliced screen to check if doors were unlocked,” she said.
Johnston said the thieves are armed.
“I think it is a concerning fact anytime someone is armed and in someone’s personal area of their home or their driveway,” she said.
Johnston said your life is more important than an item.
“We know these people are armed and we don’t want anyone to get hurt confronting them,” she said.” We want to stress with these cases that your property isn’t worth getting hurt for.”
Johnston said if someone is rummaging through your belongings, immediately call 911.
If it is something that is actively happening, call 911,” she said. “Don’t confront them, dial 911.”
Johnston said most of the cars are unlocked.
“The people that are coming out don’t want to make a lot of noise, so they are pulling door handles,” she said.
Johnston tells residents to simply lock their cars.
“That is going to take away a lot of the opportunity,” she said.
We all have forgotten to lock the doors to our cars, but another way to keep thieves away is to hide your valuables or keep them inside your home.
Additionally, Johnston said the thieves are searching for handguns.
“Take your guns out of your cars,” she said.
Fitzpatrick said she keeps her belongings safe by putting her cars in the garage and having a Ring doorbell.
“People can put their cars in the garage. That would probably help them a bit more,” she said.
Johnston recommends video surveillance and flood lights.
“Sometimes that’s enough to scare someone off if a light comes on,” she said.
She said officers are aware. Johnston said there are specialized units for these crimes at each precinct. The patrol officers in these units are stepping up patrol in neighborhoods.
She said detectives had not identified the men they have captured on video breaking into people’s cars.
“We don’t know who they are. Will we eventually? Absolutely. It is just taking a period of time,” Johnston said.
She said information from the community helps detectives find the people involved.
If you have any information that can help Virginia Beach Police, you can submit an anonymous tip through the P3 Tips App or call the detectives unit at 757-385-4101.