If you've been to the beach you've done it: you take a dip in the water or take a walk and leave your belongings behind.
Your car keys, cell phone, cash all "sunbathing " on the beach by themselves while you enjoy yourself.
Recently, this has proven to be a costly habit on Clearwater Beach. From May through July there have been nearly 40 beach blanket thefts on the beach, up from 22 during the same period last year.
"Like any other public space when there's a lot of people, it unfortunately draws people that want to take advantage of others," said Lt. David Dalton of the Clearwater Police Department.
There's no clear reason why the thefts are up this year but Clearwater police say there's an easy fix to this problem.
"We just advocate to everyone that comes out to the beach be aware of their surroundings, not to leave their property on the beach," Dalton said.
Most on the beach say they do just that.
"We either carry it with us or one of us stays with the stuff," said Donna Haney.
"We just make sure that we really keep an eye on the bag, we don't leave the bag unattended," said Matthew Riley.
But if you don't want to do that, there's another solution.
"I lock my stuff up," said Becky Baran.
Clearwater police say to leave it in a secure hidden place in your car or use the lockers at the beach.
They say beach blanket thefts are crimes of opportunity.
The only sure way to prevent a ruined beach trip it is to eliminate that opportunity.
"You wouldn't go to another public space and leave your items unattended and we suggest that people do the same out on the beach," said Dalton.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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