LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WACH) - Car break-ins are on the increase in Lexington County and deputies are asking people to do something very simple to help prevent the crime. Lock your doors.
According to the Lexington County Sheriff's Department, break-ins on unlocked cars outnumber break-ins on locked cars 3 to 1.
"The economy is down. People are looking for an easy way to obtain items to get money," said Sheriff James Metts.
And there's no easier way than finding an unlocked door in a driveway or parking lot.
The crooks can be groups of professionals going from town to town looking for an easy hit in a crowded neighborhood where residents' guard is down, or just an amateur crook looking for some fast money. It's happening so often, Lexington County deputies teamed up with the Irmo Police Department to get the word out on the issue.
They've rolled out a roughly two-minute public service announcement pitching the importance of locking up your car, not only to stop valuables like laptops, money, and other personal items from being taken, but, also guns. Officials say an alarming number of firearms have been stolen from cars in Lexington County.
Investigators estimate 64 guns were stolen from cars in the last year.
"What happens to those guns is they're fenced off on the black market and invidividuals get a hold of those guns and commit crimes with them," said Metts.
In the last year, Metts says a stolen firearm was used in a drug-related murder in Lexington County.
Even if you are keeping your car under lock and key, authorities urge you to never keep valuables in plain sight so you don't give thieves a reason to give your car a closer look.
"Things are changing. People are changing. Times are changing. Thieves are changing," said Metts. "And we have to adapt to that if we don't want to become a victim."
For more information from the Lexington County Sheriff's Department click here to see the agency's Facebook page.