Local News

Thieves hit parking lots

— The softball game may have been good, but what an Avon Park woman found out afterward left her with a bad taste.

Candice Rose said after the game ended Thursday, some people, including herself, discovered that thieves broke into their vehicles by knocking out car windows.

They broke into at least three cars, including her own, she said.

She said that wasn’t the end of it for her. In the following days, her debit card was fraudulently used twice, she said.

Such crimes involving break-ins to vehicles in parking lots are not unusual, said Nell Hays, for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman.

In many of the cases, organized crime rings are involved, Hays said in a news release issued in 2012. She said then that criminals target parking lots at gyms, churches, day cares and parks.

“Gyms, churches, parks and day cares are common places where ladies will leave their purse in the car either because they don’t expect to be gone but for a moment, or they feel they are in safe environments,” Hays said.

In many cases they then take credit or debit cards along with driver’s license or other types of identification stolen from the purse to a bank, Hays said. They use the drive-up lane furthest from the teller, she said in the press release.

Hays advises that if women don’t take their purses with them, they should put them in the trunk of their vehicle. But she urged them to take the purses with them.


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