Crimes of opportunity: don't become a victim

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Police say sometimes when people go on vacation they feel a false sense of security because they're more relaxed. But that's often when criminals are waiting to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. Unfortunately, police in Myrtle Beach say they deal with crimes of opportunity a lot. One of the most common - hotel break-ins.

In some cases, people wake up to find items stolen from their hotel room, often because they leave balcony doors unlocked.

On Wednesday night, a victim was sitting in her hotel room at the Sea Mist Resort reading, when she heard the sliding glass door open, according to a police report.

She told police she thought it was her husband coming in from outside and never turned around to check. Soon after, the couple realized someone had broken in and taken money, forms of identification and their credit cards, while she was in the room.

Their balcony door was unlocked.

It's an ongoing problem with numerous reports filed every week in the summer.

There have been at least eight hotel break-ins in the last week. Hotel workers say, believe it or not, there are criminals that move from one hotel to the next.

"And [the vacationers] don't lock their balcony door," says Brittney Baumgarten, who has worked at three different Myrtle Beach hotels. "There are balcony climbers. So, someone will start at the first floor, go through, and then even go up to the second floor and just scale the wall. And we've seen that happen. "

Baumgarten sees reports filed weekly. She says people don't lock up, use the safe in their room or lock the safe.

Criminals walk in and take all the cash and valuables.

"People prey on people on vacation specifically because they have a lot of cash, they have a lot of stuff with them, and they just leave it out," Baumgarten says.

Myrtle Beach Police were called to at least six car break-ins in the last two days. When it's summertime and it's hot, count on criminals to be watching heavy-trafficked areas for ways to take advantage of victims.

Police say to never leave anything valuable in plain sight in a vehicle. Even a purse string peeking out from under the seat will do it. Even if it's locked, thieves will break your window to get to it.

"I used to work with a girl who went to the beach at 38thAvenue North and she came back to her car and there was a hole in her window, and a wrench on her backseat where someone had thrown the wrench into the car. But because she had window tint on her windows, it didn't shatter the window,so they couldn't get in.  But all the other cars at the beach access had things stolen out of them, except for hers," Baumgarten recalls.

Two of the reported break-ins since Tuesday, were at the Beach Access on 34th Avenue North. Baumgarten says she has seen many locals fall victim to break-ins in parking lots, too.

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