By NATHAN GREGORY
Oktibbeha County Sheriff’s Department made an arrest late Wednesday in connection with a series of car burglaries reported in the area of New Light Road Monday.
Johnathan Jeffery Emerson, 18, of 1237 John High Road, was charged with multiple counts of burglary of a vehicle and is being held in Oktibbeha County Jail on an undetermined bond amount.
Also charged in connection with the burglaries is 18-year-old Trevor Westmoreland, who is charged with one count of receiving stolen property. OCSD Commander Brett Watson said he is out on bond.
Watson said Emerson allegedly targeted vehicles near houses and apartment complexes in the area of New Light Road and entered as many as 19 unlocked cars attempting to steal items. A majority of the cars had nothing removed from them, Watson said, but the suspect was allegedly able to steal several handguns, small personal items and a laptop computer.
This case is like other auto burglaries in the city and county where perpetrators targeted unlocked vehicles, Watson said.
“These were all unlocked cars. They’re not popping locks. They’re not popping windows or anything like that,” Watson said. “People are simply not locking their car and leaving stuff in there.”
Watson said he could not confirm if any other individuals are involved with the incidents, but OCSD is still investigating and further arrests are possible.
Watson said he encourages residents to report any suspicious activity to OCSD.
“If they see people or vehicles they feel do not belong in their neighborhood that look out of place, we don’t want them to hesitate to call the Sheriff’s Department and let us respond,” he said. “We’d much rather come out there and respond, check it out and make sure it’s not anything than to have not known about it, find out after the fact and we’re out trying figure out how a bunch of burglaries happened.”
Chief Deputy Chadd Garnett said removing valuable items from vehicles and keeping them locked at all times is the best protection against burglaries.
“Criminals don’t like light and they don’t like noise. They will (make noise) if push comes to shove, but they know they can probably go to the next three houses and find the car unlocked, so if it’s locked they just pass that one up and go to the next,” Garnett said. “If there’s $10,000 laying on the front seat they’ll take a chance of making that noise, but if they look in a car and can’t see anything of value in it and it’s locked, they’re not going to take that chance of busting a window when they know there are going to be other cars unlocked.”
“Regardless of whether they’re parked in the driveway, the garage or uptown, citizens need to be sure to lock vehicles,” Sheriff Steve Gladney added. “Especially with holiday season coming up, we encourage everyone to lock their vehicle even if they’re going to be there a few minutes. If you’ve got anything in it of value, take it in with you, put it in the trunk or put it out of sight.”