Crime reports in Buckhead are up this year over the same point last year, police say. The culprit? Theft of items that have been left in plain sight in cars, says Atlanta police Capt. Tim Ewing.

“We have to change the culture of what people think,” he said, “and what they know. They know … that people won’t break into their cars, but that’s not necessarily so.”

The total number of Part One crimes in Zone 2, the police zone that includes Buckhead, is up about 8 percent so far this year over last year, Ewing said.

He’s convinced the numbers will fall below the 2011 level by the end of the 2012. “I’m confident we’ll be below zero [growth],” he said.

The trick is to get drivers to put away their stuff after they park their cars. The zone recorded 177 more crimes as of June 16, he said, but about 200 of those were thefts from cars. So once the thefts from cars drop, the total number would fall below the number recorded last year, he said. “That’s what’s driving us,” he said.

What should people do? “You don’t leave your GPS on the dashboard,” he said. “You don’t leave your computer on the front seat. You don’t leave your camera hanging from the mirror. People do that every day. Have to change the culture.”