Car break-ins increased 164 percent last year in Orange County’s tourist corridor, according to Orange County Sheriff’s Office records.
Deputies responded to 1,136 auto burglaries during 2016 in a 23-square-mile area that includes SeaWorld, the Orange County Convention Center and the hotels that line International Drive. The area had 431 vehicle break-ins during 2015.
Countywide, auto burglaries increased 32 percent in 2016.
And while tourists are always susceptible to crime, the huge increase has sparked local hoteliers to hire off-duty Orlando County deputies to patrol parking lots to curb the crime spree.
Auto break-ins make up 67 percent of the 2,311 major crimes reported throughout the tourist district in the past two years, according to sheriff’s records.
The growing trend has caused the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to concentrate on decreasing the number of car break ins and educating the public on how not to be a victim of the crime.
“We have implemented several techniques, to include extra patrols, shifting of schedules, special details and the use of additional support units,” said Rose Silva, public information officer for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Silva also said all vehicles must be locked and drivers should avoid leaving packages and valuables in plain view.