By Joe Johnson
Three alleged “car-hoppers” were arrested Wednesday night after they illegally entered multiple vehicles in the Normaltown section of Athens.
According to Athens-Clarke County police Property Crimes Unit Detective Nathaniel Franco, officers responded to a home in the 100 block of Hiawassee Avenue at about 8:25 p.m. on a resident’s report that some males had attempted to enter his vehicle.
Officers found evidence that several other vehicles in the general area had been entered as well, and also found additional witnesses to these crimes, the detective said.
Three suspects – Carlos Jamar Appling, 20, of Deer Creek Court and two juveniles, ages 13 and 15 -- were found a short time later on King Avenue and were detained. They were subsequently identified as the suspects who had entered vehicles in the area, Franco said.
“Our excellent Patrol Division was able to apprehend these individuals with help from our citizens,” he said.
The detective said that all of the arresting officers’ supplemental reports had not been completed, so he did not know if any stolen property was recovered from them.
“I do know that witnesses were able to confirm that they had entered the vehicles in question in these cases,” he said.
Appling was charged with six counts of entering an automobile with the intent to commit theft or a felony and as of Thursday afternoon was being held at the county jail in lieu of good security bonds totaling $14,000.
The juveniles were released to their parents and complaints against them were filed in Juvenile Court.
“(These arrests) should serve as a reminder to our citizens to lock their vehicles and to report suspicious persons in their neighborhoods,” Franco said. “The overwhelming majority of entered vehicles are unlocked and groups of suspects are regularly going through our neighborhoods, trying door handles, ‘car hopping,’ looking for items to steal from vehicles.
“By simply remembering to lock our vehicles, we can significantly reduce the occurrence of entering autos,” he said. “When vehicles are entered, we are much more successful in solving these cases when our citizens report these crimes to us immediately, as was the case in this incident.”