NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – Kids are calling it the easiest crime in the world. It takes no skill, no stealth action.
Teenagers are getting away with it week after week all over the Tampa Bay area, and hundreds of people are becoming victims.Turns out, the crime is 100 percent preventable, and it won’t cost you a penny. It’s called “car-hopping.” Criminals roam neighborhoods at night, pulling on car door handles, hoping to find an open vehicle.
You’d think in this day and age no one would ever leave their cars unlocked, even in the nicest of neighborhoods. However, the false sense of security is a familiar emotion. People assume their cars are safe. But, that’s far from the case.
Take, for example, several Pasco neighborhoods in New Port Richey: Hunter’s Ridge and Thousand Oaks. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office showed News Channel 8 surveillance video of teenagers walking nonchalantly from car to car checking doors. In one week, there were 65 cases.
Pasco County Sheriff Captain Michael Jenkins told News Channel 8 this is happening all over the region. He explained children are coming from other counties, including Hillsborough and Pinellas, to commit crimes in Pasco.
“This is a very easy crime to commit,” Jenkins says.
Recently, when deputies made an arrest, they took the opportunity to ask the suspect why the crime keeps happening. The answer was simple and bold.
“He told us it’s a numbers game,” Captain Jenkins said.
And, those numbers are alarming. The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office tells News Channel 8 one in four cars is unlocked, and one in 10 cars has a gun in it.
“This leads to other crimes,” Captain Jenkins told 8 On Your Side. “Here at the Pasco Sheriff’s Office, this is a top priority. We want to remind our citizens, ‘Lock your doors.’ We are working closely with residents to warn them because this is a crime that’s completely preventable.”
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