JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An FBI agent living in the gated Bartram Park apartment complex Arium is just one of the victims in a recent rash of unlocked car break-ins that saw eight guns stolen from six different cars.
According to police, the thefts happened over the Fourth of July weekend in the Mandarin, Bartram Park, Baymeadows and San Jose areas of town.
Melissa Bujeda with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said investigators have seen an increase in the number of guns stolen from unlocked cars in the last few months.
"Keep yourself from being a victim. Bring your gun in with you and lock your car doors," Bujeda said.
He said he left the vehicle locked in the Bartram Park area and that the gear was stowed away, but a police report said there were no signs of forced entry, broken glass or pry marks on the SUV, and the agent told police all of his vehicle keys were accounted for.
Other victims reported pistols were stolen from a locked car on Old Kings Road, from an unlocked SUV on Baskerville Road and from an unlocked SUV on Elizabeth Ann Court.
A loaded 9mm handgun was reported stolen from the center console of a car in the parking lot of Pure Night Club, and a loaded Glock pistol was stolen from the glove compartment of an unlocked truck at a home on Flanders Road.
JSO tweeted about the thefts, imploring residents not to leave guns in unlocked vehicles.
"People are not necessarily doing smash-and-grabs so much in vehicles, because they know if they check enough cars, they'll find some unlocked," News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said. "In fact, about 50 percent of cars that are stolen, or had items stolen out of cars, are unlocked."
Smith said it's a mistake to think just hiding items inside a vehicle is enough.
"People know where to look for hidden items," Smith said. "We've seen this several times this summer where people have items stolen from cars. You don't want to leave anything in plain view. In fact, take everything out of the car that is of value when you leave your car."
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