There are a number of preventative measures Lowcountry residents can use to help stop thieves targeting home and cars.

Residents need to be vigilant in securing their surroundings, said Deputy Chief David Cheatle of the North Charleston police investigations division.

Of 128 reported auto break-ins last year in North Charleston’s South End, 57 percent of the vehicles were confirmed unsecured (either unlocked or windows down), he said. In Central North Charleston, 46 percent of 310 auto break-ins were unsecured vehicles, and in the North End, 46 percent of 397 vehicles broken into were unsecured.

Similarly, Sgt. Trevor Shelor with the Charleston Police Department said he would venture to say that 80 percent to 90 percent of auto break-ins involve an unsecured vehicle.

“For the most part, (thieves) avoid a car that’s locked,” he said. “They would rather try 30 cars quietly than break into one car loudly.”

He added that a lot of home burglaries also occur where there is a window or door inadvertently left unlocked.

“Most house burglaries are not at nighttime,” he said. “They are during the day when so many people are usually at work.”

He suggested having a yard that looked open without a lot of hiding spots and in a neighbor’s view.

“For a house, it’s not a matter of huge bars on all the windows and an explosive alarm system,” Shelor said. “A home needs to look, A. occupied and B. difficult to get into.”

He suggested people also take in valuables from their vehicles or keep them out of plain sight.

Cheatle said residents should also keep information about serial and model numbers on their valuables to help the chance of recovery from places like pawnshops.

Duane Johnson, a Charleston County resident who has experienced a number of vehicle break-ins, said he takes a lot of precautions in his area and that neighbors also keep an eye on each other’s homes. He added that he thinks there should also be more of a police presence overnight in problem areas.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at