Cars burglarized near Ritz Theatre

Police say crooks went after expensive items left in cars


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – James Stafford and his wife were at a concert in the Ritz Theatre La Villa on Saturday night when they became victims of a crime in a parking lot outside the theatre.

"When I came outside and saw the window gone, it was basically disgust," said Stafford. "I looked around and my wife and I were emotionally upset, and other people were there, talked about their cars broken into."

Stafford told Channel 4 that his car was damaged and he lost a lot of valuables that were inside his car.

"A $25 ticket ended up costing me $500. That's just preposterous. It's just a tragedy and it could have been avoided," said Stafford. "Police presence could have made the difference."

Channel 4 Crime and Safety Analyst Ken Jefferson said parking lots like the one near the Ritz are exactly what crooks look for.

"What crooks look for is a cluster of cars where they're not easily seen, and they'll duck and dodge in between, and the first thing they'll do is check the door handle to make sure the car is not locked," said Jefferson. "If it is not locked, easy access, they go right in. If it's locked and there's nothing visible, more than likely they'll pass that car up, but if there's something visible even if the car is locked, they are going to break the window to get in."

"The bag was underneath the seat in the dark and there's where she had her bag so whomever decided to break in, they popped the window out, reached in and grabbed the bag and made off with it," said Stafford.

The Ritz gave Channel 4 the following response about the break-ins in the lot near the theatre:

"We heard about this incident earlier today and are working with JSO to investigate. Our patrons' safety is very important to us."

"I want an apology or something," said Stafford. "Because we've supported the Ritz. I've been there on occasion hosting shows, matter of fact I proposed to my wife at the Ritz and I just felt a deep shame," said Stafford.

Channel 4 also spoke with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office about the car burglary. They said four cars were burglarized in the lot that night and all of them had expensive items inside, like laptops and tablets.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said people need to remember never to leave expensive items in their cars, even if they are kept out of sight.

About the Author: