Deputies investigating smash and grabs at Circle B in Lakeland

Polk County

You would think at Circle B the only dangers are the alligators and wildlife. 

“You come out here to have some fun. You would not think to find these kind of people around here because people who come here enjoy nature are basically on the same mindset. You don’t expect to see criminals,” nature photographer Norbert Pauli said, shocked to learn criminals are targeting cars.

“I think it would be safe because who wants to carry that stuff all day long,” said Pauli.

That is exactly what crooks are looking for, according to the Polk County sheriff.

“As soon as you leave, bam! They hit the window and in seconds, four or five seconds, they’ve ripped you off,” Sheriff Grad Judd said.

On April 4, crooks smashed the window of an SUV and stole a woman’s purse.

As WFLA was filming on Monday, another car was burglarized.

The sheriff said it’s a growing problem in the Tampa Bay area.

“They go and hang out outside of gyms, or dog parks, or athletic parks where normally people don’t carry their wallets, their cell phones, their pocketbooks,” Sheriff Judd said. 

“I cover my stuff with blankets when I leave but now I feel different,” Pauli said.

The sheriff said hiding it isn’t enough because crooks know what to look for. 

“We tell people over and over again, it’s got to be locked up in the trunk and out of sight,” he said.

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