For the past month, there has been an increase in car prowls. Fortunately, of the less than a dozen reported, San Juan County Sheriff Ron Krebs said, there has not been much of value taken.
“Mostly it’s been people reporting that someone has rifled through their car,” Krebs explained. Used face masks were taken in one incident, for example, others noticed the door was left ajar. In some instances, items were dropped and scattered in the driveway. The cars were all parked outside a residence. Many of the victims lived between town and Portland Fair.
Krebs calls these crimes of opportunity. In these cases, the perpetrator checks the car or house door to see if it’s locked and quickly moves on if it is. If the property is not secured, the burglar grabs what they want and leaves. Even though the person is generally caught, or moves, causing the crimes to stop, Krebs advises keeping doors locked.
‘We go through this every now and then, an individual commits a rash of crimes, people start locking their doors. They get caught, or move, the crimes stop and then people stop locking their doors,” Kreb said. “We keep our cars locked when we go off island, it’s just a good habit to get into.”
In this particular instance, a suspect was arrested off island for an unrelated crime, according to Krebs. Since the arrest, no other prowls were reported. They do not have enough evidence however to charge the individual at this time. At one point deputies had enough evidence to request a search warrant of the suspect’s home, however, one of the victims decided they did not want to pursue the case. Without that victim, the sheriff’s office did not have enough evidence to obtain a search warrant. Without that search warrant, deputies were unable to secure evidence. Days to a week later, the victim changed their mind, but by then too much time had gone by, and it was not possible to go back and get a warrant.
Krebs explained that the sheriff’s office has to request a search warrant from the judge. The request needs to provide some form of concrete evidence and probable cause why deputies want to search the suspect’s property. If the search warrant request is not filed in a timely manner, the judge may not grant the warrant and the suspect may be tipped off and move stolen property.
In regards to the recent car prowls, the sheriff’s office needs more evidence.
“If anyone has video footage, we would love to have it,” Krebs said. “Otherwise, the best thing you can do is keep your doors locked.”