Rash of car burglaries sends expensive reminder to Pasco Co. residents

Familiar trend in recent car thefts in Pasco Co.
Posted at 6:44 PM, Dec 15, 2016

One Pasco CO. family had an unexpected wake up call a little after midnight Thursday when they heard the sound of a car alarm and ran out to find two of their vehicles missing. 

"Shock," said Barbara Summerall, who says her daughter's car and husband's SUV were stolen, "like, 'what happened? We live in a safe neighborhood." 

The family moved to the Seven Oaks neighborhood in Wesley Chapel because of it's gated entrance. 

"So who thinks that that would happen?" she said. 

But it did. 

A neighbor saw men wearing hoodies take off with the vehicles. 

Investigators found one of the vehicles, an SUV left abandoned at a nearby parking lot, but their car, a red Mazda hatchback, remains missing. 

The car was the couple's 17-year-old daughter's birthday present. 

"We don't feel safe," said Summerall.

The Pasco Co. Sheriff's office says that same night thieves got into several other cars in a gated Land O' Lakes subdivision, taking off with items inside the vehicles. 

They say all of those vehicles were unlocked. 

"It's a crime of opportunity," said Arthur Madden, with the Pasco Co. Sheriff's office. 

They're frustrated to see an increasing number of car thefts in the area involving unlocked vehicles, some, with the keys inside. 

"You have good people that go to work, come home and just want to do right by all," said Madden, "and now they're a victim because of oversight of not locking their door." 

Summerall says the thieves got inside through her SUV. 

She'd left the window cracked less than an inch.

She found the inside ransacked, with both spare keys of the vehicles that were stolen missing. 

"Don't get comfortable," she said, "don't relax, it is a false sense of security to live in a gated neighborhood." 

She and her husband are now installing security cameras around their home. 

"Just because you live in a safe place," she said, "you think you're in a safe place, they find a way to get in."

The Pasco Co. Sheriff's office is now sending out messages though social media to remind people to lock their vehicle doors and hide any valuables that may tempt thieves to get in.