Summer thefts increase with visitors

North Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As the number of people in the North Myrtle Beach area rises so does the opportunity for crime, according to the city's interim Public Safety Director Rick Buddelmeyer.

Larcenies, also called thefts, are the most common crime in the city, and the number of reported thefts noticeably increases in the summer. This trend has continued this year so far.

"Huge numbers of people brings a lot of other events that comes with those folks," Buddelmeyer said. "The thieves get busy. There's a lot of choice out there for them. There's a lot more people moving around so someone up to no good doesn't stick out near as much as they do in the off season."

Car parking lots and decks are the most common places for thefts, Buddelmeyer explained. He says often thieves will steal things from unlocked cars and it's easier for them to go unnoticed in the summer because so many cars and people are moving around.

Vacation rental units are also common places for thieves to find things to steal when doors are left unlocked.

"{Visiting renters} want to leave the doors open so the kids can run back up from the beach and get something to drink or something to eat without the kids having to go with them, and unfortunately that presents an opportunity for some untrustworthy person to take advantage of the situation," Buddelmeyer explained.

The shoreline can also be an easy target for thieves. Many times people on the beach will leave money or small electronics such and phones and mp3 players unattended while they are in the ocean. Stephen Kirby was one of those people Tuesday.

"I leave my wallet and keys and pretty much everything even if there's not somebody there to watch it all the time," Kirby said. "We're kind of trusting."

Buddelmeyer said Kirby is like the average beach goer who doesn't usually think about how easy it can be for thieves to take things on the beach.

David Matthews said he left his video camera and binoculars unattended because he got the feeling that everyone around him on the beach was trustworthy.

"Me and my son went out and went swimming," Matthews said.  "My wife and two daughters went looking for sharks teeth.  We didn't really think about it. We were just sitting here, and we'd done that earlier, and it didn't seem to be a problem. Everybody seems to be honest and everything. We just didn't really think about it."

Buddelmeyer said people should be more like Carrie Kirby who took her digital camera with her while she walked on the beach. Kirby said she thought about the possibility of theft and did not leave anything to chance.

"When you leave your tent you're all the way at the water, you're not paying attention," Kirby said. "So anybody can just walk by and pick it up. So I definitely would be careful."

Buddelmeyer said police patrols can help deter crime by being visible and scaring away would-be thieves. However, he says spotting a thief can be a challenge for officers on patrol because they blend in with everyone else.

"There's probably 10 to 15 thousand people just on the oceanfront today," Buddelmeyer explained Tuesday. "How many of those have bad intentions? There's no way to pick that out of a crowd."

Buddelmeyer said the best way to deter theft is by locking doors and keeping an eye on your property.  Reporting suspicious activity can also help.

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