It is among the most prevalent and irksome property crimes in Glynn County, but alert residents and diligent police officers struck back against vehicular burglaries this past weekend, according to county police reports.
All told, Glynn County police arrested seven people in three separate incidents between Friday night and early Sunday morning. Residents alerted police to the alleged auto burglars in all three incidents, two on St. Simons Island and another at the Glynn Place Mall. In the process, police recovered a vehicle stolen out of South Carolina and recovered a Tampa woman’s credit cards that were stolen along with her purse, said Brian Scott, Chief of Staff of the Glynn County Police Department.
The stolen vehicle was recovered after a police pursuit, which began before dawn Sunday when a city police officer recognized the vehicle as the suspected getaway car in a vehicle burglary on St. Simons Island, Scott said.
A woman at the Gascoigne Apartments at 1000 Sea Island Road on the island was walking her dog around 4:49 a.m. Sunday when she saw a white Volkswagen Jetta with a South Carolina license plate parked near her vehicle, police said. The woman called police.
The Volkswagen left without headlights, but responding police issued a broadcast to be on the lookout for the vehicle.
When the Brunswick police officer attempted to stop the suspect vehicle at the mainland side of the F.J. Torras Causeway moments later, it sped north on U.S. Highway 17, Scott said. A pursuit ensued as county and city police followed the Volkswagen north on U.S. 17 to Ga. Highway 99 in northern Glynn County. The pursuit ended when the vehicle slid off of the entrance ramp to Interstate 95 and into the grass, Scott said. The vehicle had been stolen in Port Royal, S.C., police said.
It was later learned that several other vehicles had been burglarized in the Gascoigne Apartments parking lot.
Police arrested Amani Shadai Greene, 17, of Savannah and two 16-year-old boys who were riding with her in the vehicle, Scott said. Greene was charged with four felony counts of theft from a vehicle, theft by receiving stolen property, willful obstruction of the law and loitering and prowling. She was released Tuesday on a total of $27,903.50 bond, jail records show.
Police turned over the two 16-year-old boys to juvenile authorities on similar charges.
Around 8:30 a.m. Saturday, two men at Neptune Park confronted another man after allegedly walking up on him as he stepped from their Honda Pilot with a handful of change. Police say the alleged auto burglar also stole a purse from the vehicle and possibly two $100 bills from the center console, the report said.
After a brief struggle, the suspect broke free and ran toward the beach near the pier.
The suspect allegedly approached a relative who was fishing at the pier and told him that he had been attacked. The unsuspecting relative agreed it was best they leave to avoid further trouble, so they left in the relative’s 2004 Mitsubishi Endeavor, the report said.
A county patrol officer spotted the Mitsubishi moments later in the parking lot at the Parker’s store at the causeway and U.S. Highway 17, police said. Looking inside, the officer found the purse that had been stolen from the Honda Pilot, Scott said. The suspect allegedly admitted to police that he stole the purse and some change from the vehicle, but he denied stealing the two $100 bills, the report said. Police said the suspect told them he attempted entering several other nearby vehicles, but gave up because they were all locked, the report said.
Police arrested Justin Matthew Crosby, 30, of Norman Park, charging him with felony theft by entering a vehicle, according to Glynn County Detention Center records. He was released Monday on $5,304, jail records show.
At around 7:30 p.m. Friday, a citizen called police about several men in a Dodge Charger who appeared to be breaking into vehicles at the Glynn Place Mall. Moments later, police located and stopped the suspected vehicle in the nearby parking lot of the Walmart at 150 Altama Connection.
Inside the vehicle with the three Oklahoma men were several credit cards belonging to a Tampa, Fla., woman whose purse had been stolen earlier. Police also found numerous other stolen items inside the vehicle, including hats, T-shirts, book bags and socks. One of the men allegedly admitted to police that he entered a vehicle at the mall and “took a box out of it,” the report said.
Arrested were Ricky Rich Hollister, 28, Jason Rashawn Davis, 28, and Ethan Lavon Parks, 29, all of Oklahoma City. All three men remained Wednesday in the county jail, on charges that include felony theft by entering a stolen vehicle, bringing stolen property across state lines and identity theft, jail records show.
County Police Chief John Powell praised his patrol squad for handling the follow-up investigations needed to bring charges against these suspects, rather than turning it over to the department’s detective division. “The patrol shift put in the extra step and investigated these crimes,” Scott said. “They put in that extra effort to go and find these vehicles, even though the suspects had left the scene.”
The incidents also emphasize the difference regular citizens can make by calling police when they witness suspicious activity, Scott said. “It’s an overused slogan, but when you see something, say something,” Scott said. “It is through their efforts that these officers were able to solve these crimes. We encourage residents to call us if they see something that’s just not right.”
Auto burglaries are one of the leading property crimes in Glynn County, a crime that can most often be prevented by simply locking vehicle doors, Scott said.
“Everyone of these vehicles were unlocked,” he said. “All they’re doing is pulling door handles to see if it’s locked. We could prevent a lot of this if people would get in the habit of locking their doors.”