Tailgate thefts on the rise in Highlands County

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the theft of pickup truck tailgates has been rising over the past four years.

Highlands County has recently seen the impact of this statistic having at least five such thefts which have occurred here since November of last year, four of which occurred during the same 24 hour time period, according to a Highlands County Sheriff's Office press release.

Beginning on the night of Feb. 14 and continuing through the morning of Feb. 15, sheriff's deputies responded to four instances of tailgate theft. These crimes occurred from the Lake Josephine area south of Sebring, to the vicinity of south Avon Park.

Late last year there was another report of a tailgate theft which occurred in Whispering Pines Mobile Home Park.

The NICB offers the following tips to prevent tailgate theft:

If your model has an integrated lock, use it. If a tailgate can't be opened, it can't be stolen as easily. If you don't have one, get one; they are relatively inexpensive.

Park with the tailgate as close as you can to an object or a structure to prevent the tailgate from opening.

Etch the truck's vehicle identification number (VIN) or your own personal identification number into the tailgate. This will aid in its recovery and may prevent its theft in the first place.

Anyone who has experienced theft of a tailgate and has not reported the incident is encouraged to make a report with their local law enforcement agency. Deputies are also looking for leads as to who may be committing these thefts.

Anyone with information on tailgate thefts is requested to call Detective Allison Hinkle at 863-402-7820. Anyone with information who wants to remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS(8477), or on the internet at www.heartlandcrimestoppers.com.