Lock your car doors on Halloween

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Halloween is coming. Lock your car doors and don’t leave valuable stuff outside. There will be hundreds of kids, some of them teenagers, walking the streets in your neighborhood. Sadly, some of them will be “pulling handles” looking for open car doors. In a matter of seconds, your garmin, your ipod, cellphone, your pistol or change will disappear. This is true in apartment complexes also where teenagers simply walk the lot pulling handles late at night. Just recently, I went out early one morning and you could see the finger marks and nose print on the window of my car where someone looked in overnight looking for unsecured valuables.
Sadly, as a criminal defense lawyer in Sarasota, I have fallen victim myself. Once, even at a service station, when I went in to get a drink, while I was in the minimart, someone reached in and stole something off my front seat. It only takes a simple mistake for seconds to lose something valuable. Burglary of an automobile is one of the most common property crimes. The result can be a serious felony charge, particularly if a gun is stolen. Cars at beaches like Siesta Key or Longboat Key are a prime targets because people leave their wallets and phones in the car. A smart thief will not take the entire wallet but only one or two credit cards out of it. That way the cunning burglar can bang out the card with small purchases before it is reported stolen. A theft of your credit card can mess up your credit and take months to resolve. Do not become a victim.
This is a real problem when it comes to the “homeless” watching and waiting for an opportunity to slip in and steal something. In downtown Sarasota, where there is a glut of homeless people lingering on the sidewalks you have to be particularly careful to lock your car, even if only for a second, while going in a store. The Publix at tenth and S.R.41 across from the boat ramp is another place where the homeless stalk the parking lot begging and looking for unlocked doors. Many car burglaries are not reported because people are ashamed to admit (to their spouse) that they left the car unlocked. Have a safe and Happy Halloween and keep it locked.

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