News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Feb. 4, 2013
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. (WRDW) -- It's a crime that happens often but is often hard to catch. On Monday, it happened to a public safety officer.
We're talking about car break-ins.
You can still see the shattered glass on the ground from where someone broke into North Augusta Public Safety Chief John Thomas's unmarked patrol car while he was out exercising.
That just emphasizes anyone and everyone is at risk.
"Anybody could be victim of this, at any time during the day when you stop here to exercise," Lt. Tim Thornton explained.
A warning to the thousands of people that use the North Augusta Greeneway every week.
If you think you're exempt, think again. Chief Thomas' driver's side window is now just a bunch of shattered glass on the ground, and it happened just a day before the chief would join forces with North Augusta Parks and Rec to prevent this kind of crime.
"I'm meeting with Chief John Thomas tomorrow to discuss cameras in other locations," said Director Rick Meyer.
Out of the five possible parking locations with access to the Greeneway, the Activities Center is the only one with cameras, but they're working to change that.
"Unfortunately, cameras don't always stop people, but it could give us a chance at possibly catching people," Meyer said.
Christina Byers and her dog use the Greeneway every day. She says she doesn't like parking in the lot by I-20 where Thomas' car was hit.
"Down by the freeway definitely makes me a little more uncomfortable because it's very secluded. Nobody basically knows you're down there," she said.
She says cameras are a great idea.
"I definitely think it'd be a deterrent. Wouldn't say it will prevent people from doing it, but it'll definitely deter people if they think they're gonna get caught," she explained.
Parking lots for Greeneway access are risky because the suspect knows you won't be back anytime soon.
"They don't even have to be quick about it, because they know nobody's gonna be back for at least 20 minutes," Byers said.
As for the chief, he feels exactly how you think he would.
"Right now he's not the chief of police, he's the victim of a crime. And that bothers anybody," Lt. Thornton said.
Thornton says despite the break in earlier today, the number of break-ins have not risen recently.
He says it usually comes in waves, and they're going to do everything they can to prevent them, but the best way to protect yourself is to leave all your valuables at home.
Nothing was stolen from Thomas' car. They think when the suspect realized it was a police vehicle, he decided it was best to leave.