Some residents of Bluffton and Okatie neighborhoods discovered Memorial Day morning that their cars had been stolen or broken into, according to Beaufort County Sheriff's Office reports.
At least two vehicles were stolen and 10 unlocked cars were broken into overnight Sunday, most of them in the Oldfield Mews community in Okatie. Incidents also were reported at Rivers End, The Willows, and Lakes at Myrtle Park, according to Sgt. Robin McIntosh.
One of the stolen vehicles, a work van owned by an Oldfield Mews maintenance employee, was filled with about $5,000 worth of tools and supplies, according to a report. The van was recovered in Hardeeville with a badly damaged engine and some hand and power tools missing, according to the employee's wife, Judi Hicks, but more expensive supplies like Freon and copper pipes were left behind.
"They don't know too much of the value of what they had in there," Hicks, 38, said Wednesday. "It's just weird."
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Suspects also removed an iPad from a bag inside another Oldfield Mews car but did not steal it, according to reports. The suspects did take a $25 handbag from that vehicle.
The second stolen vehicle, a 2009 Chevrolet Avalanche that was locked but had a spare key in the center console, has not been found, according to the Sheriff's Office. Items totaling more about $2,000 were in the truck and in other vehicles in the four neighborhoods, according to the reports.
McIntosh said it is "highly likely" the thefts and break-ins were by the same people, though the Sheriff's Office had not identified any suspects as of Wednesday. No witnesses have come forward, McIntosh said.
Hicks said many in the Oldfield Mews community were taken aback when word of the break-ins spread. Her husband's work van had an unlocked door, which she said is common in the neighborhood because residents feel safe.
"We were just floored," she said. "I would think everybody would (lock their doors) now."
The owner of the stolen truck, who requested to remain anonymous for his safety, said he was less surprised. His vehicle, worth about $20,000, has been broken into a few times before, with electronics stolen from inside or sawed off, he said.
"They see something they want, they take it," he said.
Carson Taylor, 23, said he had not heard about the break-ins. Taylor had moved into his Oldfield Mews apartment Monday.
"I don't keep anything of value in my car," he said. "But I wouldn't want to wake up with the window busted."
Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.