Thefts trouble police

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2003

Chief Wilbur Williams Jr. and the Andalusia Police Department are concerned about a

rash of automobile burglaries in the city which have occurred over recently.

"We are currently being besieged by auto burglars," said Williams.

He explained that the problem has many factors.

"First of all I am concerned that the crime is occurring, and that is the number one concern," said Williams. "I am concerned about the number of people that are leaving their vehicles unlocked, and secondly there have been a number of people who have left substantial amounts of cash in their cars and have left the cars unlocked."

He said some people in the city still continue to assume they are safe from crime because they are not living in a large city such as Mobile or Montgomery.

"We seem to think that because we live here in Andalusia, that we may be immune to big-city type crime and the problems we think occur somewhere else," said Williams. "We cannot rely on that philosophy anymore and be safe in our community. Crime is here and it does present us with a challenge."

He said the department is stressing more than ever that city residents are cautious, and if they are going to leave their doors unlocked, that they need to remove money and other valuables that may be present in the car.

"If they are going to leave valuables in their car, they need to lock their doors," said Williams.

Williams said the recent trend of burglaries has been occurring during the last eight days or so.

"We started noticing one or two (initially) and now it's getting to where it's as many as four or five per night," said Williams. "It's frustrating because there is absolutely no pattern, and we have very little to work with. And even with fingerprinting, the pollen is killing us because that is just like dust or dirt, and if it's already on the car, the print doesn't take or either the print is put there and the pollen settles on top of it."

He said the burglaries are taking place not in one certain location, but sporadically all over the city.

"There will be a night where we will have four incidents, with one in the area of the country club, we may have one on River Falls Street - they are just everywhere," he said. "People have the belief that they are infallible, and you can tell them about AIDS or you can tell them about drugs and they have the feeling that these things happen to somebody else. Well, it happens here too and to us. (And the fact that people sometimes leave their doors unlocked or leave valuables inside) is just habit. We've got to get people acclimated and get them to have a new mindset. (Officers with the department) can't do it all and we can't be everywhere all the time. We've got to get the public in a position to help us."

Williams said he has a strong feeling that most of the burglaries are drug-related.

"I am fully convinced that this type of crime is directly attributable to narcotics," said Williams. "I bet you every dime I have, that every one of these has been specifically for (drugs or money to purchase drugs.)

He said the department has some minor leads right now, but nothing remotely conclusive at this point, and again reminded citizens to use common sense and just be careful with their money and personal valuables.

Williams also said to please contact the APD if someone has any information regarding the burglaries and to report any burglaries that may have occurred.