A huge number of theft cases is popping up across central Alabama. Crooks are taking everything from cell phones, to laptops and GPS units. Police officers say solving the cases isn't just about their patrols - the solution is found in neighbors.
This type of crime is eating up quite a bit of time for local law enforcement. In fact, almost every agency in central Alabama will tell you they've had a growing number of cases this summer. These thefts aren't violent - it's a simple case of criminal taking an open opportunity.
"Really, it touches every jurisdiction," Captain James Coker, Hoover Police said.
The tale is becoming far too common for law enforcement: crooks aren't breaking and entering, using a weapon, or kicking in doors. They're simply taking advantage of open car doors.
Friday, Hoover Police nabbed 5 burglary suspects for the crime. One even traveled from Mississippi because, as he told officers, "no one in Hoover locks their cars." The arrests are thanks to alert neighbors.
"These people saw suspicious activity, they called us immediately, and we had patrol officers there in short order," Captain Coker said.
Duey Kerper watched it all happen.
"We had Hoover and Vestavia Police chasing somebody through our property, through the side of our house," Duey Kerper, who lives in Hoover said. "Never heard back from them, but I assume they got him. Apparently there were several because police said that they got two of them at the time and they were chasing the third one down. That's what they were doing, going through cars."
The people who make up area neighborhood watch programs are acting as eyes and ears for police departments.
"When you talk about combining the efforts of our citizens and the police department, it's very successful in preventing crime," Officer Brian Foreman, Hoover Police Neighborhood Watch program said.
"They said that somebody called them and said there was suspicious activity around their home," Kerper said.
"It makes me feel more comfortable knowing that people are looking out for their neighbors," Cindy Pratt, who lives in Hoover said.
"The neighborhood watch is proven to be the most effective way to reduce crime in a residential area. The main reason is, no one knows neighbors like neighbors," Foreman said.