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19 cars robbed in Gulf Harbors neighborhood

All of the vehicles had unlocked doors. Stolen items range from sunglasses to GPS gear.

By CAMILLE C. SPENCER
Published May 8, 2007


NEW PORT RICHEY - It was 7:30 a.m. Sunday when the doorbell rang. Alan Chadwick was reading the paper in the living room of his Gulf Harbors home.

"I opened the door, and my neighbor said, 'I think your car got robbed, because your stuff is all in the street and the driveway, ' " Chadwick said.

Chadwick, 58, stepped outside to get a closer look. He almost always left the doors to his three vehicles unlocked, a habit he developed out of convenience. But in the nine years he has lived in Gulf Harbors, he has never been a victim of a crime.

Until now.

In the driveway of his home, two of his three vehicles - a 2007 Chevy Aveo and a 2005 Ford F150 - had been rummaged through. Doors were open. Glove boxes and center console compartments had been left ajar.

Chadwick wasn't the only one. At least 19 cars were hit in a rash of burglaries late Saturday and early Sunday in Gulf Harbors. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office has no suspects.

Stolen items varied, from an $80 bottle of Armani cologne and a $150 pair of sunglasses to pricier Global Position System and satellite radio systems.

One commonality: All 19 vehicles had unlocked doors.

"People leave computers in their cars. They leave purses and wallets in their cars, " sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll said. "If the door isn't locked, it's a matter of seconds before someone can break in and steal an item."

Car burglaries are nothing new in Pasco. The Sheriff's Office had 1, 384 cases in 2005 and 1, 826 cases in 2006, Doll said.

"Half the time, it's leaving doors unlocked or leaving something of value in plain view, " he said.

Chadwick usually left his wallet in the console of the F150 truck. On Sunday morning, he found it in the street. All that was missing was $100 in cash.

"I was relieved when I found my Social Security card on the grass, " he said. "I figured it was some silly kids who didn't know what it was worth. I was concerned that they would use it for identity theft."

He admits leaving his doors unlocked is something that may need to change.

"It's a habit I've gotten into, " he said. "They got me. It's carelessness on my part. I think I'll lock them again now."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229 or toll-free 1-800-333-7505 ext. 6229. Her e-mail address is cspencer@sptimes.com.

To help

Tips line

Anyone with information on the car burglaries in Gulf Harbors last weekend may call the Pasco Sheriff's Office tips line toll-free at 1-800-706-2488.