Cars, electronics stolen in string of burglaries at small, River Ranch community

Residents say they let their guard down

POLK COUNTY, Fla. - Residents in the small, River Ranch Community in Polk County found out the hard way this week that country living isn't always crime-free.

Deputies are trying to track down the thieves who hit up at least six homes and cars on Christmas night looking for whatever valuables they could find.

"It shot my whole day, that's for sure," said Cindy Hudson, who woke up to find her golf cart missing.

"They had backed it down and got it into that ditch line," she said, pointing to the ditch where she found the cart.

It appears someone tried to take it, but could not get it started so they left it behind.

"I didn't realize that my cars had been messed with until after the officers got here," she said.

Both of her cars were ransacked, and she wasn't the only one.

Just down the street, someone rummaged through Dave Fox's car, also looking for valuables. They didn't find any there and moved on.

Between the six houses and cars, deputies say the thieves -- who are still on the run -- stole two cars, electronics, a gun, and more.

"It's pretty scary when you think about it, you know?" Said Fox.

River Ranch is a secluded neighborhood where it takes at least a 20 minute drive to get to a general store. For many, living in the middle of nowhere provided a sense of security.

"We just don't think of crime here," Hudson said. "It just doesn't go through our minds at all."

Although deputies have recovered many of the items -- including the cars -- many people who live in the community worry they may never get back that peace of mind feeling.

It's the feeling that came with country-living.

"We plan on putting in a burglary alarm and for now on we'll lock all of our doors and keep our car locked," Fox said.

No arrests have been made, but deputies say the investigation is very active and ongoing.

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