ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents are on edge in one St. Petersburg neighborhood after a rash of car break-ins, while one car was even stolen. Thieves are even bold enough to jimmy the doors of peoples’ houses.
Neighbors in the Riviera Bay section of the city tell News Channel 8 a group of teens appear to be targeting certain parts of the neighborhood.
They said they’re casing the area before they strike.
The problem is so bad, the city has put up signs warning people who live in the area to lock their doors and be on the lookout for burglars.
News Channel 8 obtained videos of the teenagers and their alleged crimes.
They appear to be carefully choreographed crimes in progress that takes less than 30 seconds.
They stop their car in the middle of the street, turn the headlights out, then jump out of the car and fan out to houses on both sides.
That’s when they jimmy the car and house doors and as quickly as they arrived, they disappear.
“Every time you hear a noise, you wake up and go to the window and see what’s going on, so everyone’s on high alert in this neighborhood,” said Darlene Limtiaco, whose car doors were jimmied, but fortunately for her, were locked.
Another video shows only two teens, but on the same mission as the teens in the first video. But in that case, they came up empty.
Limtiaco may not have lost any of her valuables, but she feels she did loose her sense of security.
“It was unnerving and you do feel violated that they’re that close to your front door,” she told News Channel 8. “It makes me angry.”
Rick Ryder, who lives a few blocks away, forgot to lock his car and lucky for him, he didn’t leave anything valuable inside.
“I feel violated,” Ryder said.
“I feel like I need to do something to protect not just my family, but also the investment I’ve made in this property.”
Neighbors are using cameras, motion sensors, and social media. It’s all in an effort to take the crooks off their street, and not feel like they’re prisoners in their own neighborhood.
“See how we can help our neighbors install cameras especially so we can get a good view of the streets and things like that and just make suggestions on technology and what we can do to help each other and try to prevent these things from happening,” Limtiaco told News Channel 8.
Neighbors told News Channel 8 that they know there’s strength in numbers and that’s why they’re creating a neighborhood crime watch. So far, they have 18 volunteers and growing.