Sheriff’s office urges precaution after vehicle burglaries at park

After a series of smash-and-grab burglaries on Sunday at Nathan Benderson Park, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is urging residents to take proper precautions in order to help crack down on crimes of opportunity.

According to a release, the sheriff’s office responded to five vehicle burglaries at the park between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Sunday, during which purses were stolen from each of the vehicles. The sheriff’s office said “investigators are using this opportunity to remind the public that crimes like these can be prevented if citizens take a proactive approach to protecting their valuables.”

The sheriff’s office went on to list a number of common sense tips that can be used to help minimize and prevent vehicle burglaries:

  • Keep windows closed and doors locked. According to the sheriff’s office, “the majority of local vehicle burglaries are to unlocked cars and the crime wouldn’t happen if the door didn’t open.”
  • Hide your valuables. The sheriff’s office advises that if you must leave valuables in your car, that you do so out of sight, preferably in a locked trunk. “Even criminals know to check the glove box, under a towel or beneath the seat,” the release says.
  • If you own an SUV or any model of car with an open cargo area, get a retractable fitted cover in order to conceal items and keep them hidden.
  • If you have items to hide, do so before you park. The release notes that experienced thieves will be on the lookout for people in parking lots stowing away items.
  • Trust your instincts. Do not park in unlit areas or locations that are out-of-view. If you see something suspicious, report it immediately.

“It takes less than a minute for a thief to break your car window and snatch a purse or valuable electronics that are left in plain view,” the release said. “It takes even less time to reach into a vehicle that’s left unlocked and steal the cash in your console or other belongings.”

The sheriff’s office goes on to say that “the best defense is not to have valuables in your vehicle at all.”