Rash of car break-ins spreads to more Bluffton-area neighborhoods

astice@islandpacket.comFebruary 15, 2012 

  • Anyone with information about the car break-ins, or anyone who may have been a victim of an unreported break-in, should call Cpl. J. Moran at 843-255-3422 or county dispatch at 843-524-2777.

  • Get breaking news and story updates about courts, crime and emergency services in southern Beaufort County by following Lowcountry Blotter on Twitter.

Thieves stole items from more than 40 unlocked cars in two southern Beaufort County neighborhoods overnight Tuesday, continuing a wave of car break-ins that has hit the Bluffton area this month.

Deputies discovered dozens of cars Wednesday morning that had been opened and rifled through in Westbury Park and in Baywood, according to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office news release.

Among the items stolen were GPS units, small electronics, cash, jewelry, prescription medications and a handgun.

Dozens of cars in Hidden Lakes and Bluffton Park also were broken into this week, according to Bluffton Police Department Sgt. Joe Babkiewicz.

Those neighborhoods are now part of the list of communities, including Wellstone, Pinecrest, Eagle's Pointe and The Farm at Buckwalter Place, that have been targeted by thieves. In all, more than 100 cars have been hit, local authorities say.

Each time, the culprits enter multiple unlocked cars and steal small items such as change and electronics from glove boxes and center consoles.

Police originally believed several suspects arrested over the weekend for different crimes were involved in the break-ins because the pattern briefly stopped after they were in custody.

That is no longer the case, Babkiewicz said.

"We've spoken to some people we thought were involved," Babkiewicz said. "Right now, we're at a standstill."

No damage was reported to any of the vehicles, and no signs of forced entry have been observed.

"While we find it difficult to believe that so many vehicles were left unlocked, we simply have no evidence to the contrary," Sheriff P.J. Tanner said. "As the investigation into these recent break-ins continues, the Sheriff's Office encourages citizens to protect their property by keeping doors and windows locked and secured at all times."

Follow reporter Allison Stice at twitter.com/LCBlotter.

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