On Nov. 11, the Mount Pleasant Police Department arrested four individuals breaking into cars in the Windward Long Point Apartments off Wando Park Boulevard in the early hours of the morning. According to MPPD, a key fob for a car was recovered, which prevented the car from being stolen. This is just one of the numerous car break-ins that have been reported this year.
Over 450 vehicle break-ins have occurred in Mount Pleasant in 2022, according to MPPD. Officials are urging residents to be mindful of their belongings to protect themselves from becoming victims.
MPPD Captain of Support Services Chip Googe said that thieves are looking for high-value items, like purses, computers and money. Guns are also a hot ticket item for thieves. Thirty-one guns have been stolen from cars in Mount Pleasant this year. In some cases, those stolen guns can be used in other jurisdictions to carry out crimes.
Googe said MPPD has arrested several people outside of the community that are coming into town to break into cars. These break-ins typically occur in residential areas where the individuals try multiple door handles until they find a car that’s unlocked. The majority of the break-ins that occur in town happen to unsecured vehicles — roughly 80%.
“This is a very mobile community. People drive from all over the Lowcountry to come through here to do this. It's not just Mount Pleasant residents that we’re arresting. [It's] people outside of the community that are coming over here and committing these crimes,” Googe said.
Car break-ins in Mount Pleasant have increased significally compared to last year. In 2021, there were 298 reported car break-ins. In 2022, this figure increased by 54% with a reported 458 car break-ins so far this year.
When an area is hit with a cluster of break-ins, it’s likely that the perpetrators won’t come back to that area, according to Googe. Instead, they’ll move on to another part of town to continue the cycle. While reported break-ins are up, they are not exclusive to one part of town. It’s a “widespread” and “constant” issue, Googe said.
“We live in a very safe community. We don't have a lot of street crime. So I think it's lulled people into having a false sense of security,” Googe said.
MPPD is advising residents to “lock it or lose it” to prevent themselves from being a victim of car break-ins or theft. While it may seem like common sense, always remember to lock car doors and remove any valuables from the car. MPPD encourages residents to call in suspicious activity when they notice it.
“Sometimes people will see something and they'll say, ‘Well, I don't want to call or bother.' But, that's the time when you need to call us,” Googe said. “If it's nothing, then great, but if it does turn into something, like the arrest of the four [on Nov. 11], that's even better that we can keep the criminal from coming over here and using our citizens as targets.”