9 Investigates

Auto burglaries increasing across Central Florida

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Thieves are breaking into cars all over Central Florida, Channel 9’s investigative reporter Daralene Jones learned.

Just last week, thieves hit dozens of vehicles alone on Wymore Road in Altamonte Springs, stealing everything from wallets to cellphones, causing serious damage, police said.

"They broke my window. That's probably going to cost me $250 to fix which I'm a server, I work hard for my money,” said one of the victims.

More than 8,000 auto burglaries were reported in the first half of this year in the six county area of Central Florida to include: Volusia, Brevard, Seminole, Orange, Osceola, and Lake counties.  Most are on track to see another increase this year.

In Orange County, sector 5, which includes the tourist corridor, it’s experiencing the largest increase, nearly doubling the number of auto burglaries reported last year, just halfway through this year.

"We implement different kinds of tactics. Some we can talk about, some we cannot, but we're out in the areas, beating the streets, meeting with homeowners, meeting with business owners, hotel managers, helping those private security companies," Orange County Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Master Deputy Stanley Murray said.

Law enforcement agencies 9 Investigates spoke with agree, most of the suspects are juveniles. Numbers 9 Investigates obtained from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, show more than 1,600 juveniles arrested for burglary in Central Florida in just one year. A majority of counties showed an increase for the burglary, even though overall juvenile crime is down.

Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office told 9 Investigates, it has increased patrols in the tourist corridor and that many businesses have hired private security. Some thieves are using a tool called a center punch lock that splatters or causes your window to shell up. It allows a crook to easily push out the window.

Law enforcement said the best advice to prevent a break-in to is to leave personal belongings out of sight.

Contact Daralene Jones for more on this story.