JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police in Jacksonville are asking for the public's help in identifying a woman sought in connection with several car burglaries at Hanna Park last week.
Investigators said the burglaries happened during the day on Friday.
They said within a short time of the burglaries, a woman driving a black SUV, possibly a Lincoln Navigator, used checks and driver's licenses stolen from the victims to cash several checks at area banks.
"I really thought it was kind of safe," said Princess Snow, who goes to Hanna Park. "I never really thought about anybody breaking in cars out here, just everybody going to the beach just trying to have fun."
Bailie Staton says one of the car break-in victims was her brother's girlfriend.
"Her purse was underneath her passenger car seat," Staton said. "She had a little bit of a strap hanging out, and they somehow just opened up the door with the wire."
The thief smashed the window in another car, and in another, the doors were simply unlocked.
Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson says keeping car doors locked is a must, especially during the summer, when these types of crimes of opportunity tend to go up. But if crooks are able to get inside a car, hiding valuables may not keep them protected.
"They'll rummage through those and find what they can," Jefferson said. "So never hide anything under your seat. Never put it in the glove compartment. Never put it in the center console. Those are the three main places that a thief is going to look."
Jefferson said the best rule of thumb is to carry and not leave any valuables in the car. It's a piece of advice Staton has already taken to heart.
"I'm just really on edge about everything now because I leave everything right beside me," she said. "And even today, I didn't leave my purse without anyone being there."
Banks have a few pieces of advice for anyone who may be a victim of a break-in and have valuables or personal information stolen.
Call your bank immediately. Explain that your driver's license as been stolen, along with your other bank cards and/or checks. Ask that a fraud alert be placed on your account, including that no drive-through transactions be allowed. And add a password to your account so no one can withdraw money without giving the teller the password.
Anyone who has any information about the identity or location of the woman or vehicle is asked to call the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.
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