Automobile burglaries are again occurring on Longboat Key, although, this time, the burglars are smashing passenger-side windows to access locked vehicles.
On Friday, March 19, five vehicles were broken into by means of a smashed window to steal valuables located in plain sight, according to Longboat Key Police Department incident reports.
In total, nine Key vehicles were broken into in March.
The rash of burglaries occurred all over the Key, including Sands Point, Inn on the Beach, Bayview, Sunrise Shore, Cedars and Fairway Bay.
Items stolen from the vehicles included a purse, checkbooks, credit cards, cash, digital cameras, cell phones, jewelry, navigational systems and stereos.
More than $5,000 in valuables was stolen from the five vehicles.
It’s the first rash of vehicle burglaries since November, when a group of suspects, who were arrested by Longboat Key police officers, entered 21 unlocked cars and stole valuables.
Vehicle theft since then was minimized by the arrests and a commitment by Longboat officers to check condominium parking lots for unlocked vehicles, according to Police Chief Al Hogle. Officers placed “We Found Your Vehicle Unlocked” notices on the cars to alert residents.
Hogle said that he is working with Longboat Key Detective Kristina Roberts and various police departments to combat car theft in several communities along the Gulf Coast.
“Other agencies have gathered some information that may help us combat the string of burglaries,” said Hogle, who urges residents not to leave valuables in sight in their cars.
Hogle, who is preparing to make budget recommendations for the June 1 preliminary budget, may suggest the town hire additional officers to combat the problem.
“I will be making some recommendations and looking at our overall patrol officer strength,” Hogle said.
In the meantime, Hogle said his department is patrolling more aggressively and more visibly.
Capt. Steve Mislyan is also working night shifts to increase patrol-car presence on the island, which usually only consists of two cars on patrol for each shift.
Hogle also noted that an additional police officer will be hired soon to replace former police officer Jessica Anderson, whose appeal process window for her firing last year has expired.
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