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Victims speak out after Waco dog park becomes target of car burglars

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 3:38 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Several car break-ins have been reported in the past week and a dog park has become a target.

A sign now hangs outside the HOT Dog Park at 4900 Steinbeck Bend Drive and warns residents to take extra precautions after a recent string of car burglaries.

Taylor Timmerman and her boyfriend Justin Parra were enjoying a relaxing evening at the park with their dog, but it was interrupted when someone yelled out that a car had just been broken into.

“They completely shattered my whole entire window,” Timmerman said. “They took my tote bag with my wallet, credit cards, everything in it.”

Shattered glass still remains in the parking lot. Timmerman just moved to the area and her boyfriend said he wanted to show off one of his favorite spots.

“I told her wanted to take her to the HOT Dog Park and show her how amazing it was,” Parra said. “The first day that she is here, her car gets broken into. A red Nissan Rouge was just driving off.”

It’s a place people enjoy with family, friends, and their animals. For Gail Chancellor and her mom, Chancellor says they had only been there a short while Wednesday morning when they found both of their car’s windows smashed.

“We come out and someone who had just got here said, ‘Do y’all own these cars?’ There was just glass everywhere,” Chancellor said. “Both me and my mom’s cars got broken into.”

Chancellor says someone was there mowing so they didn’t hear it happen.

“I lost a ring that was really really important to me,” she said.

Chancellor says with how busy the park is and so many people coming in and out, she never expected it to happen to her.

Her vehicle was one of six vehicles broken into.

“I’m here to hang out with my dogs, enjoy being outside,” Chancellor said. “That’s the beauty of this place. It’s free for us to use and I think that’s amazing. It’s really sad that people would take advantage of others with their guard down like that just trying to enjoy the day.”

She hopes by sharing her story, others will be more cautious about leaving anything in the vehicles.

The park’s advisory board is taking safety measures to help protect people in the future. They released the following statement.

“The advisory board of the dog park is angry that park users are being targeted while they give their canine companions some exercise and fun. The board hopes that the thief or thieves are caught soon, and until then are encouraging park users to take precautions to protect their cars and belongings, and to keep a close watch on the parking lot and who is coming and going. We have a description of one vehicle and perpetrator, which has been shared with Waco PD, and we will continue to cooperate with the police department to stop these crimes and bring the thieves to justice. A meeting of park users to discuss how to implement and fund additional security measures is being planned and will be announced soon.”

Waco Police say it is never a good idea to leave your belongings in the car. It becomes a crime of opportunity for thieves.

Officials say take everything out of your car, lock up, and if you do happen to fall victim, always report it.

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