Pasco County detectives are tracking a rash of vehicle break-ins, and they say it seems the crooks are focusing on a certain type of vehicle.
Over the past month and a half, there have been nearly 30 reports of work trucks being robbed. In many of the cases, the thieves take wallets and credit cards while the worker is inside a home, on the job, or otherwise away from the vehicle. Tools and equipment are usually left behind.
Gerald Oppegard, a handyman-realtor, was one of those targeted. On June 4, he was painting a home and left his truck unlocked and unattended while he set up a a piece of equipment, but that's all the time the crooks needed to take his wallet.
"I was back there for about 10 minutes, maybe 15 minutes without my car being guarded, but it was a nice quiet community and there was nobody else around," said Oppegard.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office, the thieves are preying on that false sense of security. The crimes are happening in New Port Richey, Port Richey, Trinity, and North Pinellas County.
The grab crooks are seeking is different than what workers are used to.
"I've seen lawn crews -- they'd be in the back doing stuff, and people just break out windows and take off with gas cans and lawn equipment," said Travis McGuire, an employee with Callaway Chemical Division.
Detectives are looking into whether the same person or people are behind all the thefts, but in the meantime, they are warning workers to lock their vehicles and likely prevent a headache.
"I was shocked. Basically, I'm a trusting kind of guy," said Oppegard. "I don't think there are people out there planning to rob me, but apparently that's the way it really is."
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