Lock Your Doors

Student’s leaving doors open can make break-ins easier for “flippers”


By: Bailey Ballard

Unlocked doors are leading to entering auto reports, according to the Milledgeville Police Department (MPD).

Since August, there have been 53 entering autos reported throughout the city of Milledgeville, 90% of which were from college students.

Majority of reports are of vehicles located in college complex areas including: Arcadia Bay, Haven Apartments, College Station, Riverly Flats.

According to Chief Dray Swicord of the MPD, in all 53 entering auto reports, no damage was reported among the entered vehicle. Most of the stolen items accumulated to car chargers and change.

“Most of the entering auto cases have occurred near school breaks, holidays, or on the weekends.” Swicord said. “We have a nightly patrol that goes around and checks to see if doors are unlocked. Majority of the time they are and for 95% of these cases, they could have been avoided if doors were locked.”

Public Safety received two entering autos reports from students on Oct. 6. A black Lexus had been entered and the center console was opened with its contents thrown everywhere. Both back-seat windows were down. Alexander Carter, the owner of the car, told police that he had nothing of value inside the vehicle and nothing was stolen. A silver Honda Civic was broken into as evidenced by the open front driver door and trunk of the vehicle. Michael Moeller, the owner, told police that he believed nothing of value was left in his vehicle. But, Moeller said he had a pair of jumper cables stolen out of his trunk that cost approximately $20.

“One of the techniques that we see a lot of times, it’s been dubbed as flippers,” said Brett Stanelle, director of Public Safety and chief of police at GC. “These are individuals who walked through a parking lot, and they’ll flip the door handles, trying to determine if any of the vehicles are unlocked. If the vehicles are unlocked, they’ll go ahead and rummage through the vehicles looking for any valuables.”

Public Safety recommends using target hardening practices. Target hardening practices help to prevent crimes from occuring. For entering auto cases, some of these practices include: locking vehicles, taking all valuables with you, parking near lights at darker times of day and hiding valuables from sight.

“In the past, my dad has had his car broken into. To stay safe, I lock my car, park near lights, and always keep valuables on me,” said Jacob Dallas, senior English major.“By following those safety rules, no one is going to be able to easily steal from me or enter my vehicle.”

If a student believes their vehicle has been stolen or entered, the student should first call the police or Public Safety. Students should not enter the vehicle or check if items are missing. Officials will take photographs of the crime scene and document the condition of how it was found. By not altering the scene of the crime, officials will have a higher chance of finding key forensic evidence.

Public Safety advises under any serious circumstances, like an armed assailant, if a student is not prepared or equipped to defend themselves they should not resist.

“If someone is trying to victimize you and your property, remember that property can be replaced, lives cannot,” Stanelle said.

Public Safety encourages students to prepare for unexpected circumstances by downloading the RAVE Guardian app, preprogramming the public safety number into their phone and by paying close attention to one’s surroundings.

“Those are all useful tips that can help but I do want to reiterate, not all crime can necessarily be prevented,” Stanelle said.