Troubling crime trend: Unlocked cars leading to more home invasions in Hillsborough County

Thieves steal two cars from Ruskin family
Posted at 11:22 PM, Aug 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-25 23:22:06-04

The number of cases for entering unlocked autos in Hillsborough County is on the rise. Since the beginning of the year until mid August 2,037 cars have been broken into.  Of those more than 60 percent were unlocked.

Hillsborough investigators said criminals are now looking to steal items out of your car and use your garage door opener to get into your home and steal even more items. 

A Ruskin mother was in total shock last week when she woke up to items missing inside her home, walked outside and realized both of their cars were gone.

“It just sucks the wind out of you,” Anna said. “You just don't know how to feel in that moment. No one woke up. The dog didn’t even wake up. It is completely violating, just scary, you just think about how differently things could've turned out so we are thankful for that.”

Hillsborough County deputies arrested a 14-year-old a few days later. They said the teen, who we are not naming because he is a juvenile, was arrested Aug. 19.

Deputies got a call “that an individual was seen driving through the through College Chase Subdivision trying vehicle door handles parked in the neighborhood. Deputies quickly converged on the neighborhood and spotted the vehicle,” the report said.

When the teen saw deputies he drove Anna’s stolen car into a ditch and after a quick foot chase was captured by K9 deputies. Investigators said inside Anna’s car were items from other burglaries in the area and two stolen rifles.

“It's a big eye opener,” Anna said. “It doesn't really affect you until it happens to you, or someone you know.”

Deputies said the number of cases they are dealing with because of criminals entering unlocked cars is a plague on the community.

Anna said her nightly routine is to check all the windows and doors to make sure they are locked. On this particular night, Anna said she made a mistake and paid for it. 

“We are a one income family we have been saving and saving, we just saved up to by a new van and this happened, it was found submerged in water,” Anna said.

Anna said they had to change all their locks, installed surveillance cameras, and most importantly won’t forget to lock her doors ever again.

Another suspect is still on the run. Investigators are asking anyone with information to come forward.