WINTER PARK, Fla. - Burglars broke into nine cars on a Winter Park street, all in one night.
The cars burglaries happened early Wednesday along Lake Sue Avenue.
Two of the cars were stolen, and, in one case, the burglars may have tried to enter a house and stole a garage door opener, said police.
Police said the criminal or criminals stole a laptop from one car and a golf bag from another. Police said each case appeared to be crimes of opportunity because the cars were unlocked.
Winter Park police have stepped up patrols in the area and put up an electronic sign (pictured, above), warning residents who live in an otherwise safe neighborhood to lock their doors.
Crime in her neighborhood is a reality Sharon Ball experienced first-hand. Her husband woke up around 4 a.m. to the sound of their garage door opening.
"The dog barked and I heard the door continuing to go up and I got up," said Tom Ball, who grabbed a butcher knife and walked outside to find someone had rifled through his truck, leaving with only a lottery ticket and some change.
But the Balls fear the petty crimes of burglars stealing change from unlocked cars could escalate.
In their case, the burglar may have used the garage door opener in their unlocked vehicle to open their garage, and get inside their home to steal another garage door opener. They fear the criminal planned to come back to their house.
"We're afraid they may come back because they may think they'll be able to get in," said Sharon.
To make the crime even more troubling, the criminal was armed with a chisel stolen from a neighbor and left behind inside their vehicle.
"I think they're pretty gutsy, people that do that," said Mike Miller, whose truck was burglarized by criminals who took his chisel for unknown reasons. "Pretty scary. You don't really feel safe anymore."
The Balls changed the codes to their garage and plan to lock their house up every night.
Police said 75 to 80 percent of car burglaries on residential streets happen because the cars are unlocked.
Orlando police said a man taken into custody in Baldwin Park on Thursday night confessed to several nearby break-ins, but it's not yet known if he's connected to the Winter Park car burglaries.
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