Purse thefts from cars on rise in St. Johns Co.

Safety expert says never leave your valuables in plain sight

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Sheriff's departments across the state are seeing a surge in purses being stolen out of cars, and from Central Florida to St. Augustine, law enforcement in several counties said they are seeing a rise in car break-ins.

Police say it takes less than a minute for someone to break into a car, grab a handbag and get away. These crooks are specifically targeting women in placed where they take their families, and tend to let their guard down.

Tiffany Washington said she doesn't feel safe going to the park anymore with her 6-year-old.

"It's pitiful," she said. "Get a job. That's ridiculous."

Channel 4 Crime Analyst Ken Jefferson said the thieves have it down to a science.

"They'll pull up to the car and then they'll conspicuously see the item, check the door. If it's locked, crush glass, which doesn't make a lot of noise, get back in their car, and they're gone in less than a minute."

Next, Jefferson said, the thieves get to a bank to use your checks, credit cards and whatever else they've gotten a hold of.

To protect yourself, Jefferson said don't make it easy for the crooks by locking your valuables out of sight.

"These criminals do not want to spend a whole lot of time trying to figure out what's in your car and then breaking inside," Jefferson said. "If they see something that they want on the inside that's in plain sight that you've left there, you're going to become a victim."

Washington said she doesn't want to be the next victim.

"I just put it in trunk, make sure trunk completely locked. Safest thing you can do," she said.

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