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Vehicle burglaries create unneccesary loss of property

VEHICLE BURGLARIES CREATE UNNECCESARY LOSS OF PROPERTY

BY SHERIFF CHARLIE CREEL
Sheriff, Wakulla County

A Wakulla County resident goes out to his vehicle in the morning and observes something that isn’t quite right. His car door is ajar and items have been moved around inside his vehicle.

He has become a victim of one of the most preventable crimes in Wakulla County. He has left his vehicle unsecured and a young thief has helped himself to money, medications, electronics and anything else of value left outside overnight.

 

 

The crime could have been prevented because thieves will rarely waste time attempting to get into a locked vehicle. The huge number of unlocked vehicles in the county makes his life of crime much easier. The criminal is attempting to keep from drawing attention to himself so he does not want to smash out a vehicle window. Breaking glass makes too much noise when all he needs to do with an unlocked vehicle is open the door and help himself.

Vehicle thefts are not just a problem in Wakulla County. The problem is a statewide issue as well. Law enforcement officers from across Florida have been busy addressing vehicle burglaries as subjects enter unsecured cars and trucks.

The Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office has investigated dozens of vehicle burglary cases during the past 12 months and even had a recent May weekend with more than 10 cases reported during a single 12 hour shift.
How many of these cases involved unsecured vehicles? All of the May cases involved vehicles where the owners did not choose to lock their automobiles. Thieves’ target anything they feel has value to sell or pawn.

Generally the thefts are linked to someone wanting to steal a pair of sunglasses or a GPS unit. The thief is also seeking cash to make other purchases, generally in the narcotics field.
Law enforcement officials in Broward County recently arrested a 26-year-old male who admitted to them that he is a “professional vehicle burglar” who made a career out of stealing valuables from unlocked cars at night.

A native of New York, this Broward County man spent 10 years stealing items from vehicles. In an interview with media in South Florida, the man admitted to “well past a thousand” vehicle burglaries. The goal was to steal cash and anything else he could pawn or sell as a way to feed his drug habit.

Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives learned that during one four-month period their suspect broke into approximately 300 vehicles in Broward County.
The operation is simple as the suspect flips vehicle door handles to determine if they are unlocked. If they are unsecured, he pops inside the vehicle to take anything of value. The suspect does not break car windows and does not seek confrontations with the vehicle owners.

In a large heavily populated county like Broward the vehicle burglary suspect might hit 20 to 30 vehicles in one night. During one evening when the suspect was arrested he had a duffel bag full of loot including an iPad, credit cards, a purse, a checkbook, miscellaneous clothing and an air compressor. He struck many areas including the trendy Las Olas area of Fort Lauderdale.

The subject hopes to do better with his life and faces the possibility of prison time as a habitual offender. His coverage in the South Florida media has led to his fellow prisoners in the Broward County Jail calling him “celebrity.”

This case occurred in Broward County but many of the aspects of these cases are similar to those reported in Wakulla County. The thieves are happy to remove cash, medications, firearms, electronics and anything else that they can grab quickly and quietly.

Many of our cases have victims whose dogs have barked at vehicle burglary thieves only to have their owners decide not to check what is causing their animals to be agitated.
Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office deputies have solved many of the vehicle burglary cases that have occurred in the county, but our deputies cannot sit at your home guarding your vehicle. The best thing to do is remove anything of value from inside the vehicle when you are away from it and remember to lock it up at night.

If you are parking your vehicle inside a garage, lock it up inside the garage. It only takes a second or two to lock a vehicle and only takes a few seconds to unlock it. If you are determined not to remove the GPS unit from the vehicle when it is not in use at least hide the unit when the vehicle is left unattended. As wandering eyes peruse the inside of the vehicle, leave them nothing to look at.

Law enforcement has found that vehicle burglary suspects are usually younger in age and many times they are teenagers looking for an easy dollar. It is particularly important to remember to lock up your vehicle while we are in the summer months when students are out of school.

Many years our vehicle burglaries have spiked while youths are out of school and have much more time on their hands than when they are occupied with school.
We have also run into residents who are annoyed that they have to lock up their vehicles. But unfortunately it has become part of the fabric of our society with higher unemployment and some individuals seeking quick cash.

During a particularly busy early May Crawfordville night thieves entered 10 vehicles and each victim reported their loss to the sheriff’s office between 7:44 a.m. and 10:09 a.m. as they became victims while they were sleeping. Some of the stolen property was recovered after being dumped in a wooded area by perpetrators. Some of the items were lost. In the case of stolen medications, many times the narcotics are consumed by an individual hoping to get high.

Another concern about leaving personal belongings inside your vehicle is that it is possible for thieves to steal credit cards, checkbooks and other personal information. The loss can result in fraudulent use of stolen credit cards and the much worse consequence of identity theft.

But the good news is that it is easily avoidable by simply securing your vehicle. But you have to do your part.

 

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