CLEARWATER, Fla. — “Lock your car. Take your keys. Secure your valuables.”
That is what Clearwater Police Detective Harry Dodson is telling residents face-to-face this week as his department tries to slow the increase in car break-ins.
“It’s a go-go quick-quick world now and sometimes little things get forgotten,” says Dodson, who with other detectives is walking high break-in neighborhoods, talking to car owners and handing out pamphlets.
It is not just civilians who need a lesson on keeping their cars secure.
On Saturday, a thief nearly got away with stealing a rifle and ammo from a deputy’s cruiser in Pinellas County because the vehicle was unlocked.
The advice sounds simple but the numbers are astounding: In more than 80 percent of car burglary cases, the cars were unlocked.
Car thieves are often teenagers roaming in groups. They take a few seconds on your car. If it is locked, they move on. If no valuables are visible, even better.
“A lot of us grew up in that generation when you could leave your car or house unlocked,” says Dodson. “Sadly, that’s not the case anymore.”