A recent rash of thefts from garages has left local residents wondering how to better protect their property.
On June 19-20, there were three motor vehicle thefts on Daniel Island involving golf carts that were stolen from garages located in apartment complexes. A golf cart and charger valued at $1,200 were removed from a Farr Street apartment complex. On the same day, another golf cart was stolen from a garage in a community on Talison Avenue, valued at $6,800. And then, the day after that, a third golf cart that had been plugged in for charging was removed from a parking garage on Seven Farms Drive, valued at $5,000.
In each case, there are several common threads: The victims had the keys in their possession, the golf carts were parked in garages with no video surveillance, all were removed from apartment complexes situated at the lower end of Daniel Island, and there are no witnesses.
During a follow-up discussion this week, Lt. Matthew Wojslawowicz, commander of Team 5, said that none of the three stolen golf carts have been recovered.
“Since there are no surveillance cameras or witnesses, there is no information that would help in identifying a possible suspect,” he said. “A rain cover was left behind at one of the locations and that item was processed for forensic evidence but no suspect was developed as a result of that.”
“The detectives assigned to the case believe that a trailer is likely involved due to the fact that three golf carts were taken from the same area during the same time period,” he continued. “Most golf carts have universal keys so if an individual has a key to a specific brand of golf cart it is likely that key will be able to start any golf cart made by the same company. Individuals in the past have also used items such as screwdrivers to start the golf carts.”
Apartment complexes on Daniel Island are not obligated to provide surveillance in their common areas. Lindsey Miller, community director at Simmons Park Apartments on River Landing Drive, said that her complex does not use video monitoring in their parking garage.
“Each resident is given a key fob for garage entry, and it’s very difficult to get in otherwise,” she noted. Miller added that her team is willing to explore the possibility of added security.
According to Jane Baker, vice president of community services for Daniel Island Property Owners’ Association, “The private parking complexes on Daniel Island may install security cameras at their facilities but it is not required. While the POA does not require security cameras, generally speaking, additional security cameras are a good idea whether they are located on commercial or residential properties.”
Wojslawowicz concurred, “The Charleston Police Department highly recommends the use of cameras which often aid in investigations. It is unknown why these private facilities chose not to install cameras on their property.”
Team 5 recommends keeping golf carts in locked garages when not in use.
“If that is not possible,” Wojslawowicz noted, “it is suggested that owners utilize some type of a locking mechanism that would prevent theft. These can include a steering wheel lock or a lock on the wheels. A wheel lock would prevent the cart from being moved at all. Other options include parking the golf cart behind other vehicles or installing a GPS tracking device to aid in recovery should the golf cart be stolen.”
This summer, there has been an uptick in vehicle break-ins and thefts at single-family residences as well. In most cases, the vehicles had been left unlocked. On July 10, a home was targeted when the perpetrator entered a rear door of a garage and stole multiple items, including licenses, credit cards, car keys and keys to a storage unit. (See Police Blotter for full story, page 4.) The victim, Ashley Kinsinger, said, “I’ve lived on Daniel Island for 17 years and have never had one issue with crime. I’ve had a sense of security
living here, and now it’s a false sense of security. I feel Daniel Island is being targeted, and it makes me mad.”
When Team 5 was called to the Kinsinger’s home to investigate the burglary, they fingerprinted the three vehicles in their garage which ultimately helped to identify the suspect, a 19-year-old man with a long criminal history. He was photographed using the code for the victim’s storage unit the next day, and was driving a reported stolen vehicle. He was arrested and served with 10 additional warrants for crimes spanning three counties. None of the Kinsinger’s stolen items have been recovered.
When asked about security surveillance at key entry and exit points on Daniel Island, Baker commented, “There are two sets of cameras at the off ramps from 526 that the Community Fund purchased in 2014 for the police department to operate via their system.
The cameras have not been functional for several years. We have been in the process of getting quotes for new cameras for the last several months.”
Home Telecom, located at 230 Seven Farms Dr., offers security systems for homes and businesses on Daniel Island and surrounding areas. Gina Schuler, vice president of marketing, said that the company has customizable packages that can provide expanded coverage for docks, outdoor areas, garages, and driveways.
“In addition to 24/7 monitoring of your property, the system can monitor up to 128 zones with a variety of features including touchless disarming using Bluetooth; a built-in glass break detector; unauthorized user snapshot sent to the owner to identify anyone disarming the system; and app-based controls for when you are off the premises,” she said.