Town of Palm Beach News

Palm Beach Experiencing Rise in Auto Thefts

Since December, the usually quiet town of Palm Beach has seen a rash of auto thefts, as first reported by the Palm Beach Daily News.

Between 2010 and 2014, annual thefts ranged from three to seven, a number that more than tripled between 2014 and 2015. So far, in the first three months this year, nine vehicles have been stolen. That includes two vehicles which were stolen from limousine company.

Although nine cars stolen with a population of 8,700 is a relatively low number, this statistic puts the town of Palm Beach on track to have the highest number of auto thefts in the last decade by about double. 

On Feb. 19, Ibis Ible resident Douglas Hill experienced an attempted auto theft. He noticed the thieves after his dog wouldn’t stop barking and he saw the dome light inside his BMW came on at 2 a.m.

“I’m like, What the hell?” Rill recalled recently. “I am only in my underwear, and I open the door and I run outside.”

Rill ended up chasing the would-be thieves through town in the middle of the night. Rill called 911 and was put on hold, but the operator eventually came back on the line to tell Rull to pull over immediately.

Palm Beach Experiencing Rise in Auto Thefts

Public Information Officer Teri Barbara said that if citizens witness a crime, they should get a good description of the suspects and leave the rest to the authorities.

“We don’t even chase suspected auto thieves,” she says. “This individual is putting his life in danger as well as others.”

Police records show that two cars were stolen that night in Palm Beach, one of them belonging to Rill’s next door neighbor. 

Police spokesman Michael Ogrodnick said that he cannot explain the increased number of auto thefts either in the past few months or since 2015, but cited the increase in traffic to the island as a possible reason, pointing out the extra attention Donald Trump’s presidency has brought to Mar-a-Lago and the island as a whole.

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Ogrodnick suggested that residents and visitors can help prevent auto thefts by locking their cars, parking in well-lit spaces and reporting suspicious activity. 

“One of our best weapons is a good witness,” he said. “If you see something out of the ordinary, we’ve got to know. You’ve got to call us.”

Rill noted that times are changing, and not just in Palm Beach: “We get a false sense of security here in Palm Beach. You have to be careful everywhere today.”

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