Number of cars broken into double

Posted at 6:20 PM, Apr 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-27 19:03:07-04
CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla.- The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office released new figures showing the number of cars broken into has doubled in the last year. 
According to a public service announcement by Sheriff Bill Prummell, the majority of this increase are thefts from motor vehicles. To date, 152 thefts from motor vehicles have been reported compared to 71 for this same time last year. Of those, 120 or 79% of them were unsecured. 
"It's pretty scary when you live in a gated community and they still get in here," Mary Lou Smock said. 
A couple weeks ago, several cars in Smock's gated community were broken into. She says she's been double checking to make sure her cars are locked. 
"An officer told me that there were cars that were broken into. I think he said 16 in this little subdivision."
Her neighbor captured one of the attempted burglaries from his home surveillance camera. 
In the video, the guy runs to the car parked on the left, swings the door wide open, and lunges toward the middle compartment, before rummaging through the car to see what he can find. 
He was in and out of the cars in less than 30 seconds. 
"I always feel like if you start off stealing, where does it end? Does it end with an armed robbery and hurting someone?"
Detective Kathy Ayres with the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office says while this crime has soared, it can be curbed. 
"The majority of these vehicles and the recent ones we've had, all of them have been unlocked vehicles," Detective Ayres said.
She says Charlotte County is one of the safest counties in the state and thinks that's why it's so easy for people to forget, which is exactly what thieves want you to do. 
"What we found is they will start in one neighborhood and they will check all the vehicles regardless of what type vehicle it is," Ayres said. "As long as its unlocked, that's their target."
Sheriff Prummell added in his post that even though crime isn't running rampant, there are ways to prevent from becoming a victim, simply by taking the time to lock your vehicles and secure your property.
If you would like more information on your neighborhood watch or on crime prevention, please contact the Charlotte County Crime Prevention Unit at 941-258-3947.