Detectives with the Benton Police Department are investigating a rash of vehicle break-ins in four different neighborhoods.
Chief Kirk Lane said that during a recent meeting with Arkansas Chiefs of Police Association, it was noted that other agencies in the state are seeing an influx of large groups of suspects targeting neighborhoods for these types of crimes. He said the unknown suspects are traveling together throughout neighborhoods with the intention of spreading out to locate easy targets — unlocked vehicles — and then share the items stolen with each other.
"A good thing to remember is always lock your vehicle when you’re not around, whether it’s day or night," Lt. Kevin Russell, public information officer, said. " It’s always a good idea to not leave items of value inside your vehicle at all, but if you do, then please lock it and hide the items from view. Although a vast majority of thefts from vehicles happen via an unlocked door, they do occasionally break windows to gain access if they see something valuable."
Nineteen people reported 22 vehicle break-ins between Monday and Tuesday. The thefts were reported between the 200 and 350 block of Autumnwood, 4300 block of Harvest Cove, 100 block of Madrid, 200 block and 3900 block of Madison Place and the 3800 block of Chambray Place, all in the Madison Village subdivision; between the 600 block and 1000 block of Miller Cove; and 900 block of Red Oak Circle.
Russell said the items stolen from the vehicles vary, but did mention that numerous purses, credit cards and backpacks were listed. He said all the vehicles in the reports were unlocked. Russell said besides locking up a vehicle, he suggest neighborhoods take part in neighborhood watch programs.
"We are encouraging all our residents to please watch out for each other and to report any suspicious activity," Russell said. "The neighborhood watch concept can pay dividends in preventing and catching suspects responsible for these types of crimes. Residents are encouraged to immediately contact the police department if they witness something they think is potentially suspicious, because we would rather investigate something that turns out to be nothing versus missing the chance to apprehend those responsible."
Benton detectives are continuing to investigate the crimes and are working leads to find the suspects. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Benton Police Department at 778-1171 or 315-TIPS (8477). Individuals also may send an anonymous crime tip to CRIMES (274637) with the keyword BNPD in the body of the text.
*Published earlier today in The Saline Courier. We post a limited number of local stories online, but for complete news and sports coverage, subscribe to our print edition today.