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Thieves target unlocked cars in Neptune Beach

Police say they can't emphasize enough that people need to lock car doors

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – Nearly a dozen unlocked vehicles were burglarized this week in Neptune Beach, the second string of car break-ins in the area in less than three months, police said.

During the first week of September, there have already been 11 car burglaries in the central area near Ocean Oaks Apartments off Seagate Avenue and 3rd Street, according to the Neptune Beach Police Department.

The rash of car burglaries comes about two months after police reported 17 car burglaries during Father's Day weekend near the same location.

In both waves of vehicle break-ins, police said, small items were taken, if any, but the common denominator was mostly that the cars were not locked. 

Lt. Michael Key said there is no evidence that indicates the string of burglaries could be related the one earlier this summer, but officers are talking with residents and letting them know they need to take the steps to make sure they don't become a victim, especially locking their cars. 

"Simply leaving your lock secured is actually one of the best ways to not become a victim of this," Key said.

While it may seem like a no-brainer, people continue to leave their cars open and ready for thieves to strike. 

"Lock your cars," said Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst. "Make sure the car is locked."

Justin Morgan told News4Jax Thursday that his truck and his wife's car were both hit Friday night. 

"The center console was open. The glove compartment was open, the papers kind of thrown around," Morgan said. "Both cars were unlocked."

Morgan said they didn't lock the vehicles "because it's a safe neighborhood." But he said he's now locking all his vehicles and telling his neighbors to do the same. 

"Everyone in Neptune Beach, keep an eye out. You know what I mean, protect each other, you know, help each other out," Morgan said. 

In most cases of car burglaries, Smith said, the cars are unlocked. 

"A lot of people say, 'I'm safe. I don't need to lock my car.' That's the wrong attitude to have because that's where burglars go. They go to neighborhoods where people do feel safe, where they don't have a lot of crime, because in those areas, people are not as alert," Smith said. 

Police said no arrests have been made but they continue to look for any information that might help in the cases.