Crime ring breaking into Florida cars

Local businesses, police warning patrons to not leave valuables in plain view

Published On: Oct 24 2012 05:22:32 AM EDT   Updated On: Oct 24 2012 12:07:11 PM EDT
Car break in
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

An organized crime ring is breaking into cars throughout Florida, and now warnings are going out to car owners.

Locally, community organizations like the YMCA said they're reminding their members once again to remove valuable items from their cars in in parking lots.

When Channel 4 went to the parking lot of the Riverside YMCA, our cameras didn't have to look far to find valuables left in plain view, like a purse, and even a checkbook just sitting for the taking.

"Sometimes an opportunist might see something and have no intention, but might go ahead and grab it," said Nikos Westmoreland, of the YMCA. "So don't give them that opportunity."

Westmoreland said the YMCA reminds its patrons year-round about leaving items behind in a parked car.

Police say with the holidays approaching, the thieves are looking for fast money, day care centers, shopping centers, schools and health clubs.

"I've been here for a smash and grab," tennis player Kenny Wood said. "They just get what they need and go. Before we can get out here, the alarms going off and they go."

Wood said he saw a smash and grab robbery as it happened at the Riverside tennis court where he plays, in spite of a tennis match not far away.

"One lady had money and had $2,000 for a flight," Wood said. "It's a sad thing that it's out there in the open."

Tennis player Carrie Moore is heeding the advice.

"It's funny, actually. I hid it today under my towels and trunks," Moore said. "It's a good reminder not to do that."