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Wednesday, Jul 18, 2018
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Five guns taken in 30 reported break-ins of unlocked cars in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — Thieves have made off with at least five guns after breaking into unlocked vehicles in recent days, police said Wednesday morning.

Over the past three days, a group of people have been breaking into unlocked vehicles across the city. Clearwater police Lt. Michael Walek said the group went car-to-car, testing to see which ones were unlocked.

Walek stressed the need for people to lock their cars and properly secure their guns.

"People need to lock their cars and be responsible for their guns," Walek said. "As a gun owner, you need to be responsible and not negligent. You wouldn’t be leaving your gun on the kitchen counter so why are you leaving it in the car?"

One arrest has been made so far and police believe they have identified all members of the group involved.

Walek said there is a misconception with people that if they lock their car, the window will be broken instead.

"It’s just not true," Walek said. "It’s clear from the video that if the car was locked they just moved on to the next. A lot of these could have been stopped."

Police do not know where the guns are now but are working to locate them.

They stressed that residents should never leave guns in an unlocked vehicle because they often get used to commit other crimes.

In 2015, 82 percent of burglaries that occurred in Clearwater were from unlocked cars, Walek said. Detectives are passing out fliers today to remind residents the importance of locking their cars and keeping belongings secure.

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