JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Jacksonville Beach police are asking for the public’s help solving a string of brazen car break-ins after more than a dozen cars’ windows were smashed over the weekend.
As of Tuesday, no one had been arrested.
The auto burglaries were reported from the 12th Avenue South beach access into neighborhoods in South Jacksonville Beach between Fifth Street South and Eigth Street South.
“I think they were just looking for guns or cash basically,” said Trevor Thomas, whose car was broken into.
More than a dozen other residents reported a similar incident that took place between 11 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Saturday.
Oddly enough, after the front window of Thomas’ car was broken, the crook or crooks didn’t take anything, he said.
“I had like an iPad, Segway, my wallet, a bunch of clothes and shoes,” Thomas said. “Everything was still in there.”
He found that bizarre but said whoever was responsible could have taken photos of his credit cards, so he canceled them.
News4Jax obtained reports from police showing some victims reported their wallets and valuables were stolen, while others reported that the crooks passed up their belongings.
“We’re looking for people that kind of just stand out in the neighborhood,” said Jacksonville Beach Patrol Officer Allan Ford.
He said officers look for people out of the ordinary at odd times in hopes of cutting down on crime sprees.
“If they can get five, 10, 15 cars within an hour time span, that’s what they’re going to do,” Ford said. “And then they move on to the next neighborhood.”
Ford said car burglaries are especially common during the holidays, but smashing windows happens less often.
“Normally within the city of Jacksonville Beach, it’s unlocked vehicle doors,” Ford said. “But around this time of year, being that people leave presents out in the backseat, front seats, their purses out, it leaves an opportunity for them to just go ahead and break that window and get those items out. Don’t leave any valuables out where people can see it because that opens up that door for that crime of opportunity.”
On Tuesday, Auto Glass Now manager Jason Secura was replacing two windows for a victim on upper 8th Avenue.
“It’s frustrating for homeowners,” he said.
Secura said the bill can be hundreds of dollars and insurance doesn’t always cover the costs. That leaves the victims paying out of pocket.
"Door glass can run $200 or more depending on the vehicle and the piece of glass,” he said. “And then the install is more.”
Secura said his teams are busier in the holidays because there are more broken windows.
Police are warning people to take their valuables in, make sure their vehicles are locked and try to park their cars in well-lit areas.
Investigators said they are asking neighbors to check their security cameras and call them if they see the culprits or suspicious activity from this weekend’s burglary spree. As of Tuesday, they continued to canvass the neighborhood.
Anyone with information or evidence is asked to call the Jacksonville Beach Police Department at 904-270-1661.