Since the large influx of students with unlocked doors returning to Starkville began, the number of car burglaries has begun to rise again.
On the morning of Sunday, Sept. 13, officers responded to reports of multiple people entering a vehicle on Hogan St. Starkville Police Department Officer James Smith responded and made contact with two individuals in the area. One of the individuals, a 14-year-old juvenile, was in possession of a concealed firearm.
According to Sgt. Brandon Lovelady, SPD's public information officer, car burglaries fluctuate throughout the year.
"In the fall, you have to understand there are a lot of people that are coming from a place where they are used to parking their cars somewhere and not thinking about anything else," Lovelady said. "Depending on where you are from, you think about things like locking your doors. My grandfather lived in Oxford, and he would pull up on the square of the city hall and drop his keys on the floorboard with the windows down and go into the city hall and drink coffee every morning. Times have changed."
There have been 40 reported cases of car burglaries in the city limits since Aug. 1. There were 73 reported burglaries in Aug. of 2019.
Most car burglaries occur due to the fact that cars are left unlocked. The burglars are typically juvenile. There are some adults, but the overwhelming majority is juvenile.
Drew Summers, a Mississippi State University graduate, moved back to Starkville in July of 2019 with his wife, Jennifer Summers. Summers had his truck broken into on Aug. 10.
"I had walked outside to get something out of my truck," Summers said. "When I opened the driver's side door, I could see my empty holster for my pistol. I looked into the driver's seat, and there was stuff pulled out of my center console."
According to Summers, this robbery on Aug. 10 was not his first experience with automotive robbery in Starkville.
"I had actually one incident back in either March or April," Summers said. "It was right after the curfew was put in place, and I was sitting in my truck, before daylight, in my driveway. I was waiting for the curfew to end, so I could leave when I saw a couple of police cars drive by. The next thing I know is that I had a flashlight shining in my window. It was an officer telling me that they had someone breaking into vehicles. He could tell that I wasn't that person and told me to have a good morning. I didn't think anything else about it because I try to make sure that my vehicle is always locked every night, and sometimes we forget."
Starkville resident Nathaniel Schurter and his wife have had two experiences with car burglaries. The first time was on Aug. 14, and the second time it happened was Aug. 29.
"I've got cameras set up outside," Schurter said. "And it has actually happened twice now. The first time actually happened at 4 a.m. I didn't wake up, even though it notifies my phone when it senses motion. I didn't wake up till half an hour after it had happened, at which point the person had come and gone, so I just waited until later that morning to call the police and file the report. The cameras did record him coming and going. I forgot to lock my car door, so he just went and took a bag of change."
During the second occurrence at Schurter's home, quick thoughts and actions were able to keep the problem under control.
"The second time that it happened I woke up right away," Schurter said. "And the police were there within 10 minutes. That gives me some degree of comfort knowing that the police can be there very quickly."
Public Information Officer Lovelady has been working for Starkville PD for almost 12 years and has only seen broken windows during auto burglaries a few times.
"The main thing is to lock your doors, period," Lovelady said. "Nearly all of our auto burglaries are on unsecured vehicles. You can prevent an auto burglary by locking your doors and securing your valuables. Every once in a while, we will have a broken window, and that is still very rare."