by Pilar Pedraza
KWCH 12 Eyewitness News
5:53 PM CST, February 5, 2013
"I was dumbfounded and just sat there like.. my purse is... my purse is gone! The window's bashed out," said Charlene Burton. She's one of the most recent victims of a crime Wichita Police say is on the rise, especially at city parks. But officers say there are ways to protect yourself.
"It was right in this window right here," Burton said, showing where the thieves had damaged her SUV. "And i'm guessing they used some kind of instrument because I don't think you can really punch these kinds of windows in."
Burton and her husband had everything right.
"So my purse, it was underneath the middle, like between the middle and that seat right there," she explained, showing where they'd hidden her purse, which is precisely what police advise.
They then left to enjoy the park and have a professional photographer take pictures celebrating the fact that soon they would have another member of the family. Burton is nine months pregnant.
"We were maybe back there for 45 minutes," she said. "When we came back, I was going to write her a check and I opened the passenger driver's side door, and then just saw, glass! You know, inside the car and just... I don't even remember what I said!"
Days later, there are still tinted pieces of the glass on the ground. Police say thieves need only a moment when no one's looking to smash in a window and take your stuff.
"We've seen here recently an increase of cars getting broken into in parking lots," said Officer Charley Davidson of the Wichita Police Department.
And it's not just at city parks. Thieves are targeting anyplace they think that we might be tempted to leave our valuables in our vehicles.
"Indoor activities such as gyms and other areas, churches," Davidson explains. Which is why he advises, "If you can leave it at home, you know, leave it at home."
If it's not possible to leave it at home, hide it, thoroughly. The slightest hint is all the invitation a thief needs.
"I would not even recommend hiding it. I would leave it on you or leave it at home," said Burton.
But she refuses to let her loss get her down.
"I think that's the best thing that came out of it was, the maternity pictures turned out great!"
Burton believes the thieves were watching her when she and her husband hid her purse and that's why they targeted her SUV.
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