Car burglaries way up, unlocked vehicles biggest reason

Khasen Mitchell

In the early morning hours of Aug. 11, numerous vehicles in the Mooreville area were reported to the Lee County Sheriff Department to have been burglarized.

“As of right now we’re at six vehicles, from three different (Mooreville) subdivisions. Everyone of them was unlocked,” said Lee County Investigator Will Morgan.

One vehicle in the Saltillo area was stolen and another burglarized. Investigators were notified of surveillance video that showed the suspect’s vehicle and number of suspects.

“Even this car, which was stolen, was unlocked. Actually there were two Dodge Chargers — the first one was unlocked so they rummaged through it — got to the second one, saw the key so took it,” Morgan said.

Following up on this information the suspect vehicle was located in the Belden area and one suspect detained —Khasen Mitchell, of Tupelo.

“In this particular case — this kid was an Allstar football player at Mooreville and was a top recruit. He was an 18-year-old who had everything going for him,” Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said. “He had no criminal background. What led him to do this is beyond me.”

Readers have heard about a gateway drug, like marijuana, leading to other drugs. Car burglary is like that. It’s usually a first step into criminal activity. But this isn’t like when thieves break into a house, or pick up what’s lying around in yards to sell to get drug money. These car burglars just seem to be doing it strictly for money, usually just taking cash, credit or bank cards, guns and some electronics.

“Most of the suspects we’re arresting, in these cases, are young. They are in the 16 to 25 range,” Morgan said. “The surveillance vehicles we’ve gotten over the last months generally show it’s always someone different. We’ll make an arrest and two or three weeks later, we’ll catch a completely different group.”

“We know it’s not the same people because we’ve caught everyone, in one bunch, and put them in jail and now somebody else is out there doing it again,” Johnson added. “They don’t tear up the car, no busted windows or anything like that, they just open that unlocked door, get what they want, shut the door and most of the time, the owner doesn’t even know anyone has been in it.”

When investigators get a report of a car burglary in a certain area, they’ll canvas that neighborhood, even notifying homeowners about the situation. Sometimes officers will tell the owner about someone being in their vehicle and the owner will have no clue. People don’t usually miss things until they go looking for them.

Other individuals are currently being sought.

Mitchell, 18, has been charged with one count of felony taking of a motor vehicle and six counts of burglary of an auto.

“He is (cooperating) as far as his involvement because he was caught on camera, but he’s not cooperating as far as his accomplices,” Morgan said.

Mitchell was arrested on Aug. 12, had a bond set of $50,000 and has since bonded out.

“So if you leave your car unlocked, they are going to get in it; if you leave your car unlocked and you have valuables in it — they are going to get in it and take your valuables and if you leave the car unlocked, with valuables in it and key in it — they are going to get in it, get your valuables and take your car,” Johnson said.

If you have additional information about this crime, please call (662) 841-9040.

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