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Car break-ins disturb the peace

(ran East, South editions)

When Helen M. Riede stepped out the front door of her Lakewood Estates home Saturday morning, she wasn't prepared for what she saw.

The passenger side window to her 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee was on the ground near the car. She had just paid about $1,200 to get her car fixed after it was burglarized in the parking lot at her job in January.

This time, she wasn't alone.

Eight cars were reported vandalized over the weekend beginning Friday evening in the Lakewood Estates area of St. Petersburg, prompting an e-mail to the community and calls for more patrolling in the quiet neighborhood.

"It's really a pain in the butt," Riede said.

Before last weekend, only one car vandalism had been reported in the area, Lakewood community police Officer Richard Grimberg said.

"A normal weekend is very quiet, with nothing happening," he said.

Grimberg said that when he sat down to his computer Monday morning and checked to see what activity had taken place over the weekend, he wasn't prepared to see so much. He said reading one report would have been easy to take. When he saw two, he gulped. With eight reports, he decided to act fast.

"I sent out a list to everyone in Lakewood Estates to let them know what happened."

According to the e-mail:

+ A window was broken on a car in the 4900 block of Cadiz Way S. A wallet was taken.

+ A window was broken on a car in the 4900 block of Cadiz Way S. Nothing was taken.

+ A window was pulled from a door frame of a car in the 1900 block of Barcelona Way S. Three cell phones were taken.

+ The front passenger side windows were pulled from two cars in the 2500 block of Grenada Circle W. A laptop computer and a cell phone were taken.

+ A front window was removed from a vehicle in the 2500 block of Miranda Way S. A cell phone was taken.

+ A window was smashed in the 2300 block of Grenada Circle W. A cell phone was taken.

+ A window was pulled from the door frame of a vehicle in the 2500 block of Cordova Way S. An amplifier and speakers were taken.

+ A resident in the 4800 block of Caesar Way S noticed someone trying to climb over his fence into his yard.

"It p---ed me off because I'm a single mother, and every penny counts," Riede said. "Plus, I feel violated because they would come into my driveway."

Orville Creary, president of the Lakewood Estates Crime Watch, said fliers are being distributed and the group plans to meet Tuesday to discuss the recent increase in neighborhood crime. He also said heavier patrolling should deter burglars.

"We're trying to get the neighborhood mobilized to let them know what is happening," he said.

Riede said she thinks the patrolling will help and that everyone has just become used to living in a quiet neighborhood.

"We are so comfortable (being here)," she said. "Maybe we've gotten too comfortable."

Marlon A. Walker can be reached at (727) 893-8737 or mwalker@sppimes.com.

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