Auto break-ins, thefts occur at Lexington park. Police: Off-duty officer spots culprit.

Charles M. Smith.
Charles M. Smith.

An off-duty officer helped take down a man breaking windows to get into cars in one of Lexington's most popular parks.

Police arrested Charles Michael Smith Jr., 45, in Shillito Park on Tuesday and charged him with theft, criminal mischief and possession of burglar’s tools.

Police Sgt. Jervis Middleton declined to offer any details about the burglar's tools, citing an ongoing investigation.

Officers were dispatched to Shillito Park around 8 p.m. on Tuesday where they met an off-duty officer who had been notified of broken windows in vehicles and items missing. Police said the off-duty officer was able to detain Smith after suspecting him of stealing from vehicles in the park.

Smith was charged and taken to the Fayette County Detention Center.

Middleton said he does not believe the Shillito Park break-ins are related to previous vehicle break-ins at other Lexington parks. The city has dealt with an increasing amount of theft cases in recent months.

In a two-month window since May 11, Lexington police took more than 200 reports for larcenies from vehicles, Lexington Police spokeswoman Brenna Angel said last week.

On June 8, four thefts from vehicles were reported to police at Cardinal Run off of Parkers Mill Road.

Four days earlier, a car parked at Ecton Park off of Turkey Foot Road had a window smashed and a purse stolen from inside.

Police say that leaving items in vehicles provides easy targets. All vehicles should be locked.

Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity.