The following is an adapted news release from the Flagler County Sheriff's Office:
Deputies believe at least four people are responsible for 18 car break-ins and a car theft at two area hotels.
The suspects traveled in a dark SUV, and the break-ins may be related to others in other counties.
The break-ins and a stolen vehicle were reported the night of Jan. 20, and Flagler County Sheriff James L. Manfre warned residents and visitors alike to be vigilant.
Five vehicles parked at the Holiday Inn Express, 200 Flagler Plaza Drive, and 13 vehicles at the Hampton Inn, 150 Flagler Plaza Drive, were burglarized overnight Jan. 20. The vehicles each had windows smashed and the contents ransacked.
Deputies found multiple clothing items and suitcases dumped behind the Mobil gas station at Interstate 95 and State Road 100 belonging to the car-break victims.
In addition, a 2014 Hundai was stolen from the Holiday Inn Express and later found abandoned in Volusia County. It had been involved in a crash, and was not occupied.
Detectives have determined that the stolen vehicle is related to the burglary cases.
Detectives believe the burglaries are related and part of a larger trend where suspects travel to an area and target vehicles by smashing the window if needed, then taking valuables, including purses and wallets.
They immediately try to cash any checks they find, or use credit cards before they are deactivated.
Manfre reminds everyone to take steps to avoid becoming a crime victim and offers the following crime prevention tips:
- Take a few extra minutes to keep your vehicle locked.
- Don’t leave anything valuable in your vehicle. If you have to store valuables in your vehicle, lock them
- in the trunk completely out of sight.
- Park in a well-lighted area close to the front of businesses where more people are likely to see if
- something suspicious occurs.
- If you see something, say something by reporting suspicious activity to 911 immediately.
Anyone with information concerning these crimes, or any crime in Flagler County, is asked to contact the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office at 386-313-4911.
Callers can also remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-8477 (TIPS). Callers are eligible to receive a reward of up to $1,000.