Clearwater police were giving out tickets Thursday morning — but not the kind that land you in traffic court.
As part of an effort to reduce car burglaries, officers began handing out Tampa Bay Rays game ticket vouchers, good for four seats to any home baseball game the rest of the 2016 season at Tropicana Field, to car owners who locked their vehicles.
The Rays donated hundreds of vouchers to Clearwater police. Officers will be keeping an eye out throughout the city's neighborhoods for responsible car owners this summer until the vouchers run out.
From January 2015 through this May, 1,040 car burglaries were reported, and more than 80 percent of them involved a car that was unlocked or left open, Clearwater police records show.
"It would help us out a lot with our resources, our time, and just the amount of cases that we get if people just locked their vehicles," said burglary unit Sgt. Tim Downes.
Downes said officers don't lift the door handles without the car owner's permission. They "visually" check to see if the lock button is visible and knock on the door of the home where the car is parked to talk to a resident, who gets a voucher if officers confirm their car is locked, or a burglary prevention brochure if it's not.
The Rays have also participated in similar programs in the past, including in St. Petersburg, where officers have rewarded the vouchers to residents exhibiting positive behavior.