Car Burglaries Spike in Okaloosa County

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A rise in car burglaries in Okaloosa County has the Sheriff’s department sending a reminder to everyone… Lock your car doors!  A prevention specialist and a victim of a car burglary talked about the problem, and why fixing it is important.

The advice is pretty easy.  Lock your car, or you could be the next victim of a burglary.  Since January there have been 642 car burglaries, and 90 percent of the time the car is unlocked.  The other 10 percent, suspects perform a smash and grab.

“All of this can occur in less than 10, 15 seconds,” Ashley Bailey, Okaloosa County Crime Preventions Specialist said.  “So, really quick for someone to just open the door, reach in, take your belongings and leave.”

So in a place like your neighborhood where there’s a ton of cars, where all it takes is one pull, criminals are having a really easy time taking your stuff.

“I was a little upset at myself for not locking it,” said Darrell Knowlton, an Okaloosa County resident whose car was broken into recently.  “Then, I was rather upset because they stole some expensive stuff out of the car.”

One of those expensive things was a gun.  There have been 75 guns stolen out of cars this year, with only 15 recovered.  That’s 60 guns still out on the streets.

“Felt pretty bad about it, pretty irresponsible, cause I’m a gun owner and I’ve been a gun owner for a long time,” Knowlton said.  “So I was really disappointed that I let that happen.”

With the large majority of the burglaries happening on unlocked cars, one click could make a big change.

“If we could just get it out to citizens and individuals and visitors to lock that vehicle, we know that that’s enough right now to deter crime,” Bailey said.

The best way to remember to lock your car doors is by creating a routine.  Before you unlock the house, always double check to see if you have locked the car doors.

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