Around 2 a.m. on Nov. 26 some teenagers in the Summerfield development say they started hearing car alarms go off.
The next morning at least six people living in the southwest section of the development — mostly on Laraway Drive — reported having had their cars broken into.
Since I live on Laraway Drive and these people are my neighbors, I know the information in this story is true but I have promised not to use their names.
By 7 a.m. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputies began going from house to house. Deputy Mike Massimei was the first on the scene.
People were pointing to open spots in their dashboards where radios and GPS systems had been removed.
Others lost items including iPods, wallets, digital cameras, and in one case, a wallet with credit cards and personal identification. All these things had been left in their cars.
Due to the general safety of the neighborhood, Neighborhood Watch, private security — and people who work night shifts so that cars move around on the streets at all hours of the day and night, people just felt too safe.
“There weren’t any forced entries,” said Debbie Carter, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s office. “People had left their cars unlocked.”
Those of us who park inside garages had no problem, only those who leave their cars in their driveways overnight.
Lt. Howard Wooden said one 15-year-old juvenile who lives in the neighborhood was arrested and charged with six counts of auto burglary and one count of grand theft auto.
The grand theft auto was because he drove a Kia from a driveway and later abandoned it in a parking lot on the corner of Big Bend Road and U.S. 301, Wooden said.
Because of his age the juvenile has been released to his parents.
“We have two other suspects,” said Carter. Naturally, since the investigation is ongoing, and the one person already charged is under 18, no details are available for print at this time.
But Carter points out that crimes like this are easily preventable by locking cars and never leaving anything on the seat that looks worth breaking into to get.
Just covering something with an old newspaper in a parking lot can help if there is no way to get an item in the trunk, she said.
The sheriff’s office has a list of “Safe Shopping Tips” on its website for the holiday season. It may be found by visiting http://www.hcso.tampa.fl.us/, then clicking on the Happy Holiday Shopping (green tree) in the center of the page. The direct link to that page is http://www.hcso.tampa.fl.us/Articles/Articles/Safe-Shopping.aspx.