FORT LAUDERDALE ( – A parked car may not look like much to most people, but to a thief, it’s like a kid in the candy store.

Car burglaries are quickly becoming a major problem in Fort Lauderdale, but police want thieves to know that their time is running out.

“This is a classic example of one of the things the thieves are targeting,” explained Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Travis Mandell as he pointed to a GPS unit stuck to a car windshield.

As Detective Mandell walked around a super market parking lot, he spotted more items. Mandell found a $4,000 check sitting on the front seat of a pick-up truck, a cell phone in another car and a purse.

“I just walked up to this car and within seconds I was able to identify a purse sitting on the floor board,” Mandell said.

With the purse just sitting there, CBS4’s Ted Scouten waited for the car’s owner for about a half-hour.

“I noticed in your car that you left your purse in there,” said Scouten. “Yes,” responded Naya Gallegos, “I got good faith, I trust people.”

But that trust may not be warranted. It takes just six seconds for a crook to break a car window and snatch a purse on the front seat. That very scenario happened at a Fort Lauderdale gas station.

In another case, it took just three seconds to zip up to a car, open the door and grab valuables.

Alexandria Adams knows what it’s like – she was hit at a mall.

“I came outside, left a Gucci shopping back in the back seat, went back in to buy something else,” recalled Adams, “when I came back, the window was broken and the bag was gone.”

Fort Lauderdale Police are putting fliers on cars and setting up flashing signs to remind people to guard their valuables as a part of “Operation Auto Shield.” Another part of Operation Auto Shield calls for police putting out “bait cars.”

But CBS4 is not telling police secrets. Police want the crooks to know those cars will be out there as they hope that a criminal will come up to a car and break in, because they’re going to be watching.


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