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Car burglaries of electronics on rise near Riverview

A rash of car break-ins in Riverview has prompted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to post warnings like this sign on Boyette Road near Balm-Riverview Road warning residents.

DOUG BENNETT | Times

A rash of car break-ins in Riverview has prompted the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office to post warnings like this sign on Boyette Road near Balm-Riverview Road warning residents.

Dion Jenkins couldn't believe her eyes.

The windows of her Buick SUV were broken. The headrests were missing from both front seats.

The DVD monitors embedded inside them were gone. Next door, her neighbor's car windows were also shattered.

"It was devastating," said Jenkins, 37, who discovered the burglary after her husband returned home from a night shift.

Jenkins was not alone.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating a wave of car burglaries along the U.S. 301 and Big Bend Road corridors.

"They go up and down the streets and look for easy targets," Sgt. Dorothy Flair said.

Among them: GPS units, MP3 players and laptops.

Residents reported 185 vehicle burglaries in south Hillsborough last month — a sharp spike from the 127 reported during the same month last year. But Flair said recent Sheriff's Office efforts have resulted in a decline.

Deputies have arrested one person in connection with the burglaries, she said, but are still searching for others.

In two central Riverview locations, a sheriff's sign flashes in the median: "Secure valuables … Lock your car … Report suspicious activity."

People in newer subdivisions and gated communities often think they're immune to crime, Flair said. But the sergeant, who oversees property crime investigations in south Hillsborough, is meeting with neighborhood crime watch groups and community leaders to spread the word.

Chad DeStories, who heads the Covington Park Crime Watch, said residents of the Apollo Beach subdivision had reported at least 18 vehicle burglaries since late last month.

"We've been telling people, take all your stuff out of your cars," he said. "You would be surprised at what people leave in there."

In South Pointe, Jenkins said she's upgrading her car alarm and adding more lights outside her home.

"I'm going to be sleeping with one eye open," she said.

Flair said anyone with information about the burglaries should call 247-0455.

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 661-2454.

Car burglaries of electronics on rise near Riverview 03/20/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2008 6:00am]
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