Car burglars caught on home security video in Palm Beach Gardens

City police are warning residents to lock their car doors and be diligent about removing valuables in light of a seasonal trend of car burglaries and thefts.

READ: Vehicle burglaries reported at four West Palm hotels

When a band of teens loots a laptop or drives off in a stolen car, it’s usually a crime of opportunity, department spokesman Maj. Paul Rogers said. They’re not looking to smash windows to get the goods.

READ: Gardens council OKs 12 percent raises for police

The culprits will scour a neighborhood around 3 or 4 a.m., pulling on door handles, looking for unlocked cars containing spare change, phone chargers, jewelry and the occasional laptop, he said. Sometimes, they hit the jackpot and find a set of keys inside.

“We live in a safe community, where everyone thinks nothing could ever happen here,” Rogers said. “It’s one of the most preventable crimes out there.”

Police tell people to always lock their car doors — even if the car is parked in the driveway — and remove any valuables, including the keys, whenever the car is parked.

Hiding a wallet or purse under the seat in the parking lot at the gym isn’t enough, Rogers said. If a criminal is in the area, he may be watching. The trunk still holds a risk, because a criminal could use the release lever to pop it open.

“Taking the items with you is the best way to prevent a burglary,” Rogers said.

Popular home security cameras have captured recent burglaries in Vision One and Alton on video, but police have not been able to identify the suspects, he said.

Palm Beach Gardens saw 169 vehicle burglaries from April 1 to June 30 this year compared to 219 during the same period last year, according to a city crime analysis report.

Although the number of car burglaries decreased year over year, police tend to see an increase in the summer months compared to the rest of the year, Rogers said. Teens are out of school for the summer and looking for something to do, he said.

Meanwhile, 31 cars, or 11 more than last year, were stolen from April 1 to June 30, according to the crime analysis report. The five-year average for that three-month window is about 30, according to a crime analysis report.

Criminals sometimes use the stolen cars to commit crimes, and some cars Palm Beach Gardens police recently recovered were going to be used in violent crimes, Rogers said.

In Palm Beach Gardens, the crimes are most prevalent in residential neighborhoods north of PGA Boulevard. But Rogers emphasized that the car burglaries and thefts are not isolated to Palm Beach Gardens, and city police work closely with other agencies.

“The criminals don’t just stay in jurisdictional boundaries,” he said. “They’re always looking for an opportunity.”

Jupiter saw 104 vehicle burglaries between April and June this year compared to 150 during the same period last year. The town also saw a slight decrease in auto thefts: 19 between April and June of this year compared to 21 for that period last year, according to Jupiter Police spokeswoman Kristin Rightler.

Looking solely at July, there were 33 auto burglaries reported in Jupiter this year compared to 30 last year. The town saw 10 auto thefts this July, twice as many as in July 2017. Seven of those 10 stolen vehicles were recovered, Rightler said.

Palm Beach Gardens police hand out fliers with prevention tips. They also walk through parking lots at places such as gyms and hotels, looking for valuables or keys left in sight, Rogers said. When possible, they’ll track down the owner and suggest he or she return to the car to secure the items.

Postcards left on vehicles at hotels to remind guests to remove their valuables.

“If we can do a little extra to prevent a crime, it’s only going to make the community safer and make those criminals go elsewhere,” he said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Santaluces Principal to students: UPS lost your college credit exams
Santaluces Principal to students: UPS lost your college credit exams

Some 200 Palm Beach County high school students who expected to get the results of the college credit exams they took last spring instead learned this week that their tests were lost en route by the United Parcel Service. Santaluces High Principal Tameka Robinson broke the news to students and families Tuesday in a letter home. One solution: Students...
After backlash, Delray rebuffs controversial West Atlantic land deal
After backlash, Delray rebuffs controversial West Atlantic land deal

A small group of Delray Beach residents eked out a victory for their neighborhood Wednesday evening, when they convinced a city board to walk back a controversial land deal. The Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency was poised to sell six acres of land along West Atlantic Avenue valued at $15 million to a developer for just $2 million. But after...
Priest who worked in Boca accused of abuse by Pennsylvania grand jury
Priest who worked in Boca accused of abuse by Pennsylvania grand jury

A priest who was affiliated with Ascension Catholic Church in Boca Raton is accused of molesting a 9-year-old boy and sexually abusing unidentified others in a scathing report issued Tuesday by a Pennsylvania grand jury that conducted a sweeping investigation into clergy misconduct. Monsignor Thomas Benestad was among the scores of &ldquo...
School board OKs $372K marketing push to support proposed tax hike
School board OKs $372K marketing push to support proposed tax hike

Palm Beach County public schools are preparing a big-ticket marketing push to educate voters about a proposed property tax increase on the ballot in November, one that would raise teacher salaries and provide extra school security. With three months until county residents vote on the proposal, school board members on Wednesday voted to spend up...
Boynton police crack down on school-zone speeders
Boynton police crack down on school-zone speeders

With school back in session, nearly 200,000 students have returned to class in Palm Beach County. That means more cars on the road in the mornings and afternoons, and also the return of another school-year staple in Boynton Beach: 20-mph speed limits in school zones. “This is not a new program,” police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater said...
More Stories