City experiences rash of gun thefts

OKEECHOBEE — In the last month, Okeechobee has experienced a rash of gun thefts, and according to Okeechobee Police Detective Bill Saum, the majority of those thefts have been from unlocked vehicles. There have been eight cases within the city limits since the end of July, said Detective Saum. Most of them have taken place in the northeast and southeast sections of town, all east of U.S. 441. It’s not uncommon to leave your vehicle unlocked, he said, but “if you’ve got a gun in your car, please lock it or take the gun out — one or the other. Certainly, what happens is, over time, people forget. They get lax. It happens. We all do it. How many times do we just run down to the corner store and leave our house unlocked? We don’t even think about it. We are just running down to the corner. It happens. That’s human nature to forget. However, the seriousness is obvious. These are guns.”

Maj. Donald Hagan said one of the biggest problems they are having is people don’t call the police first. Instead, they go out and confront the person in their car or shed themselves. This is extremely dangerous, he said, especially if they have just stolen your gun and especially if you are unarmed. “Call law enforcement before you do anything else,” he said. The worst thing is, these guns are now out on the streets and can be used in other crimes, he said.

The thefts happened between July 28 and Aug. 31, and there have been eight People are asked to call law enforcement if they see someone in the neighborhood they do not know. The majority of the incidents were at night. If you have any information, contact Detective Saum at 863-763-9784.

The sheriff’s office reported three gun thefts from vehicles in July and August.

Both the county and city agencies stress, please LOCK your vehicles!

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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