Thieves break into cars at Dogwood Park

Park-goers find shattered windows, missing valuables from car

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police are warning park-goers after thieves broke into several cars at a local dog park.

The break-ins happened around noon Tuesday at Dogwood Park, off Belfort Road near Butler Boulevard.

People at the dog park returned to their cars to find shattered windows, broken glass and missing valuables.

Patrick O'Brian and his wife left their SUV unlocked. Thieves took off with their baby's diaper bag.

"I mean it's certainly disheartening, but it's kinda expected," said O'Brian. People are desperate, people know that they are buying gifts, you're carrying more cash, there's valuables inside your car. For us, it's disheartening, but it could've been a lot worse."

Their other car that was also left unlocked was broken into the day before in their gated Mandarin community. The thieves took his wife's purse and wallet.

"Fortunately we didn't have anything too valuable inside either of our vehicles when it happened," O'Brian said.

Several signs are posted in the Dogwood Park parking lot, warning people not to leave their valuables inside their cars while their pups play in a 42-acre park, featuring a lake, hammocks and trails.

The park was a Boston couple's first stop in Jacksonville. They were here for the holidays but had to leave early because their wallet was stolen in the rash of break-ins. It was their first impression of the River City.

Thieves also smashed a woman's window and took her license, credit cards, passport and Social Security card. She's now struggling to get a new ID with no other form of one.

The dog owners said they left bags, even the diaper bag, in plain view, not thinking this would happen in a busy parking lot in broad daylight right before Christmas.

"It just seems petty," said O'Brian. "It kind of makes you realize that it could be anything you have of value inside of your vehicle or inside of your home it could just go so quick, just like that."

Dog owners said thieves broke into cars at the park around Christmas last year as well. Thieves often look for places like that, as well as gyms, grocery stores and day care centers.

Police are reminding everyone especially during the holidays not to leave valuables visible. They advise to put valuables in the trunk but be careful doing so, because often thieves are watching and will break into trunks moments after people leave.