4/23/2014 - SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WMBF)- A rash of auto burglaries swept through an area of the Grand Strand. Police say at least 30 cars were burglarized in Surfside and have reason to believe other areas in the county have also been hit.
The three men have been arrested and police are trying to track down all the owners of the stolen items.
The three men didn't choose to hit a place where tourists are known to be. Instead they targeted areas in northern Surfside, where a lot of local families live. Officers say what the vandals took is even more unusual.
Electronics, watches, money, even sunglasses, tanning lotions, sunscreens, and towels were items stolen. Local police say it seems they took everything that wasn't bolted down.
"A lot of the items taken had very little value, it seems like they were taking anything that was in the vehicle at all," explains Lt. Kenneth Hofmann from the Surfside Beach Police Department.
The amount of cars and the array of stuff that was stolen is making it difficult for police to match the owners with their belongings.
They want people to file detailed reports on the items they are missing.
"We'll match that up to the items we have here in our property and evidence room to try to see if we can get that back to them," Hoffman said.
The three men in their 20s were caught around Tenth Avenue North, when a man noticed them in his yard. Police say there was a brief scuffle before they took off on foot. Police finally caught up with them on Fifth Avenue North.
The men had two duffle bags of stolen things and dropped other things when they saw police.
One thing in particular had police concerned.
"Fortunately for the public, one of those items that was taken and later recovered was a firearm that they had taken from a vehicle that they had thrown down when they knew police were close to getting them," said Hoffman.
Lamar Duncan has lived in the neighborhood for years and expects this activity on the beachfront, but he didn't think it would leak onto his street like this. He speculates they may have targeted a more residential area for a reason.
"Thieves are available all the time and maybe more are coming into this area, too, because the beach is attractive to people coming in. So they thought this is a lucrative place to start doing bad things to people," says Duncan.
Police could not go into much detail but say they have reason to believe these three men could be tied to other crimes in the area.
They are working with Horry County Police Department to investigate deeper. As of now, the men have been charged with five different counts of theft related crimes.