Unwatched items vulnerable to theft at beaches

Tips to avoid having your belongings stolen at the beach

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – Most of us are guilty of it -- leaving our valuables in plain sight and hitting the ocean.

It can be easy to fall into a different mindset at the beach, but the reality is thieves have access to the beach just like everyone else -- and your stuff is vulnerable.

"I definitely just hide my phone under my blanket and stuff and then go back and pray that it's not stolen," said Katie Hunt of Neptune Beach.

Hunt was one of three girls who were in the water for a half hour at the beach and left valuables on their towels, which someone easily could have snagged. Channel 4's Hailey Winslow caught up with them when they walked back up the beach.

They told her they had phones and car keys left out and admitted there was money in the car.

"Not that much (money)," Hunt said with a laugh. "We're broke so they wouldn't be stealing that much."

Amber Davidson of Jacksonville Beach said she left her phone, clothes and keys out. She said she'd be upset if her phone was taken.

"I've gone through too many," Davidson said.

Kristin Sharko of Jacksonville Beach had her keys and phone inside a bag that she left on the beach.

"Those are really important things I probably shouldn't leave out that long," Sharko admitted.

She said the remote on her keychain would make it pretty easy for a thief to find her car.

Jessica Kramer and her children left their stuff spread out and all hit the water for about 20 minutes. That's plenty of time for someone to walk up and take what they want. Winslow talked to them when they got back to their stuff.

"I guess I just come often enough that i feel comfortable with it," said Kramer of Atlantic Beach, "and I never bring my wallet."

If you bring valuables to the beach, be discreet about where you put them. One place a thief is not likely to look is inside a baby diaper, preferably a clean one. You can wrap your stuff up in there, and then hit the ocean.

"I guess I kinda feel safe because I'm from around here, so I know which type of people to look out for," Hunt said. "And I usually try to keep an eye on it in the water."

Police recommend bringing as little to the beach as you possibly can, and try to leave the smartphone behind.