Neighborhood Crime Alert: Police warn about car break-ins

SJC Sheriff investigating rash of car burglaries

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - The St. Johns County Sheriff's Office is warning about a string of car break-ins throughout the county.

The latest smash and grab break-ins happened at the Nocatee Welcome Center Saturday night. Deputies said thieves took off with about $13,000 worth of money, jewelry and electronics from five different cars that were parked at the center for a wedding.

Police are also looking for a woman in connection with several car break-ins that happened last week in Hannah park. Channel 4 spoke with victims of the smash and grab robberies at both Hannah Park and the Nocatee Welcome center Wednesday night.

"Today's Wednesday and I've been on the phone every day since," said Melinda Cook.

Cook has been canceling credit cards and checks, trying to recover what she can after thieves broke into her car while she was at a wedding in Nocatee Saturday. Deputies said the crooks used Key Pop which pulls the entire lock off the car door. The robbers took Cook's burse and briefcase.

"It had all of my paperwork and money from the night before from my business and all my credit cards, debit cards, check books, everything," said Cook. "Now they know all my identification, they know everything, so I'm worried about all of that."

Brook Bernier shares Cook's concern. Thieves broke into Bernier's car and stole her purse at Hanna Park two weeks ago.

"I shoved it in there as much as I could, just right under there," said Bernier.

Not only did the crook's take her ID and credit cards, but Bernier said her social security card was stolen too.

"Daily I think about what could happen, just loans, anything could happen with that and that could ruin my credit for life," said Bernier.

Channel 4's Crime and Safety Analyst Ken Jefferson explained that an ID in the hands of a criminal is a powerful weapon.

"They can open accounts or attempt to open accounts, they can sell your identity to others in another state. That's something that can follow you for a very long time," said Jefferson. "If you're going out for a specific purpose, carry just the necessary items that you need such as your drivers license, your insurance card and maybe one or two debit cards."

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.