HOLT, Fla., Nov. 3, 2016—Holt residents should take extra precautions with valuables left in unattended cars.
“Smash-and-grab” burglaries have occurred across Okaloosa County with incidents reported in Holt, Destin, Fort Walton Beach and Niceville this year. Purses, jewelry, tools and firearms have been reported stolen in these incidents.
A Holt resident returned to her van parked on Johnson Street Oct. 5 to find her purse contents dumped on the front seat. Missing was more than $600 worth of items, including social security cards, birth certificates and health insurance cards.
The burglary happened sometime before 3:30 p.m. while the owner was away from her car for a few hours.
Many of the car burglaries in Okaloosa County this year involved unlocked vehicles. The van in the Holt burglary was left unlocked with the windows down.
The number of incidents involving unlocked cars can range as high as 80 percent, said Michele Nicholson, public information officer for the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in an email.
“Car burglaries are an ongoing, nationwide law enforcement problem and North Okaloosa County is no different,” she said. “We’ve had numerous firearms reported stolen out of unlocked cars across the county this year, which is another public safety concern.”
OCSO developed a public education campaign to address car burglaries: “Lock, Take, Hide,” to encourage the public to “lock your car, take your keys and hide (or remove) your valuables,” said Nicholson.
“Most car burglaries can be prevented with those simple steps,” she said, “but we have had rashes of smash-and-grab car burglaries, including in Holt this year where individuals will smash a window if they see a purse, cell phone or anything of value inside a locked car.”
The OSCO encourages people to call the county sheriff’s office if they see any suspicious activity at 850-689-5705.
Anyone with information about car burglaries should call the OSCO at 850-863-TIPS, visit emeraldcoastcrimestoppers.com or text “TIP214,” plus the message, to CRIMES (274637).