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Unlocked cars in St. Pete Beach invite break-ins

ST. PETE BEACH — After a rash of car burglaries, St. Pete Beach police are warning residents to lock their cars.

In the days just before Christmas, at least nine cars in the Belle Vista neighborhood were broken into, police Chief David Romine said.

The neighborhood is on the east side of Gulf Boulevard between 44th and 46th avenues.

"They were crimes of opportunity. The cars were unlocked, and there were no forced entries," Romine said.

Police said the break-ins were committed by two teenage boys, who were subsequently arrested. Their names were not released.

"One of our patrol officers did a really good police job. They talked to kids in the neighborhood and narrowed the case down to two suspects. The father of a 15-year-old brought him in to us. He really cared about his son, and now that boy has a chance of doing really well," Romine said.

City Manager Mike Bonfield said car break-ins happen frequently in the city, especially when cars are left unlocked.

The most commonly stolen items are loose change and music CDs, but Bonfield said sometimes people will leave valuables and other items in their unlocked cars — including guns.

On Christmas Eve, the Police Department sent out a warning to residents and homeowner associations about the car burglaries and urged residents to lock their cars.

"The St. Pete Beach Police Department has been receiving several calls for service regarding auto burglaries of unlocked vehicles. This has been occurring primarily in the Belle Vista area but could happen anywhere in the city," the Criminal Investigation Division flier announced.

Residents were urged to lock their cars, not leave keys in their vehicles, be on the watch for "strangers in their neighborhoods," and report suspicious activities or noise immediately to the Police Department.

Unlocked cars in St. Pete Beach invite break-ins 12/30/08 [Last modified: Friday, January 2, 2009 12:37pm]
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