Residents in Tampa's Wellswood neighborhood are thinking twice about their own safety after a series of car burglaries and two gun thefts.
There have been five reports of Auto Burglaries involving nine vehicles in the Wellswood neighborhood. All of these offenses were unlocked vehicles, according to a Tampa Police Department hotsheet posted on a local neighborhood watch page.
Stolen items included loose change, cell phones, and two handguns, according to the post.
People living in the area now are concerned about firearms falling into the wrong hands.
"It's a matter of feeling safe," said Autumn McCarty, a Wellswood resident.
'If you walk out of the house and all of the sudden you see somebody breaking into your vehicle, you don't know how you're going to react," said Roger Triminio, who also lives in the area. "If they have guns, people can get hurt."
Police are now searching for the people behind the thefts and have a photo of one suspect, who is about six feet tall and 220 pounds.
Most of the crimes happened on Friday or Saturday nights between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to the post.
Police say there are several things you can do to keep yourself safe, including:
- Always close your windows and lock your doors, regardless of where you leave your car parked!
- Keep your valuables out of sight. Lock them in the trunk!
- Avoid leaving keys or key fobs in your vehicle.
- Remove your courtesy key from your owners manual.
- DO NOT confront the suspect. DO NOT compromise your safety.
- Never leave your vehicle unattended while the engine is running, even if only for a minute, which is a state law.
Criminals are known for going car-to-car looking for easy access so don't make your vehicle a "crime of opportunity," police said. Following these simple tips will enhance the security of your vehicle
If anyone has additional information or video please contact Detective S. Barnett at (813) 354-6648. Report car break-ins after they happen to the Tampa Police Department's non-emergency line at (813) 231-6130.