Four golf carts stolen in one week

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Golf cart thefts are on the rise in Canyon Lake. Four golf carts were reported stolen in the community within one week. The first cart was stolen on Sunday, September 11. The fourth cart was stolen on Saturday, September 17.  Two golf cart were recovered, two were still missing as of September 21.

The first stolen golf cart belongs to Chris and Nikki Breeding. It was stolen out of the East Port parking lot on Sunday, September 11, around 2:30 p.m. Surveillance footage captured the person who stole it. Nikki says, “It looked like an older white male, possibly around the age of 40.”

The Breedings filed a police report. Later that evening, around 9 p.m., the police spotted the suspect driving the cart on Vacation Dr. and pulled him over. The suspect fled on foot. A helicopter was sent to search the area but was unable to locate  him.

The police provided the couple with a photo from the surveillance footage, which they posted on the community pages. “The police were very helpful,” says Nikki. “We are grateful to them and for getting our cart back.”

The second golf cart was stolen on Tuesday, September 13, between the hours of 2:30 and 5:30 a.m. The cart was stolen out of Todd and Debbie Morrison’s garage, which they accidentally left open all night. Debbie says, “My neighbor came home at 2:30 a.m and saw the garage open. He said the cart was still there at that time.” Debbie noticed the cart was gone at 5:30 a.m. when she got up to let the dog out.

Todd had been working on the golf cart a few days prior to it being stolen. Debbie says, “Todd had just put new tires on the cart. The tools he used, along with $300 worth of school books that belonged our daughter, were also in the cart when it was taken.”

The Morrisons filed a police report and posted a photo of their cart on the community Facebook pages. They received a few leads but nothing panned out until Monday, September 19, when the police notified them that their cart was found. Debbie says, “The police said an informant tipped them off. It was found completely stripped but the body was intact.” The case is still under investigation. The Morrisons plan to press charges.

“Two years ago someone broke into our neighbor’s house and ransacked the place, but I’ve lived here 14 years and nobody has every stolen anything from us until now,” says Debbie.

Debbie cautions residents whose homes back up to the Golf Course. She says, “Around 3 a.m. on Thursday, two days after our cart was stolen, I saw someone on the Golf Course driving really slow with their lights off. They could have been casing out homes.”

Resident Dianne Elson  says, “I saw a dark colored cart driving slow on Gray Fox without lights at 3:15 a.m. on Saturday. I thought it was odd. The golf cart was very quiet; I saw it but didn’t hear it.”

Bert and Kathy Barbay’s golf cart was stolen from the Lodge parking lot on Wednesday, September 14, between 8 and 9:15 a.m. “When another Chair Volleyball player showed up at the Lodge around 9:15 a.m., they parked in the spot where our cart was parked. That’s how we know the time frame of when our cart was stolen,” says Kathy.

The Barbay’s golf cart is a standard white ClubCar with a bench seat. Also in the cart were the Barbay’s two beach chairs and a small table that they use for Taco Tuesdays.

The Barbays reported the incident to Community Patrol and the Riverside Sheriff’s Department. “Both entities were very responsive,” says Kathy. “We were very pleased.”. The Barbay’s were told by the police officer that the surveillance footage from the Lodge showed a male taking the cart.

Craig Maurello’s golf cart was stolen from the Eastport Villas parking lot between 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 17, and 9 a.m. on Sunday, September 18. Craig describes his cart as a silver four passenger E-Z-GO with chrome rims. It has a canvas top and soft custom upholstery with the works “Wake2Wake” stitched  on the seats. The cart also has a “Quicksilver” sticker on the front. Craig values the cart to be worth approximately $2,000.

Craig’s cart may have been an easy target. He says, “There were a couple carts parked next to mine but one had a cover around it and the other had a lock.” He filed a police report but the cart has yet to be recovered.

Golf cart owners are encouraged to take precautions to make sure their carts stay safe. A golf cart thief does not need your key to steal your golf cart. Standard golf carts of the same brand use generic common keys. Unless a unique key switch has been installed, just about any other standard golf cart key can be used to start a golf cart. A key switch can range from $25 to $75, depending on the model of the cart; but a little money now can save owners from a bigger bill down the line when they have to replace your golf cart.

There are several other methods and devices that are specifically designed to prevent golf cart theft at home and while on the go, all of which can detour thieves from stealing a golf cart.

  • One of those products is a disconnect switch. It’s a toggle switch  that disconnects the flow of power from the batteries. The switch is hidden in an  inconspicuous location on the cart, such as under the dashboard or seat. The one downside with this product is that a thief could start a cart if they find the switch. However, some thieves don’t consider the possibility of a disconnect switch. If they can’t start a cart they probably will walk away in search of another cart that is easier to steal.
  • A key pad lock is another product that can protect a cart from being stolen. The electronic pads on this product wire into the electrical system and disable the cart when parked. A key code is need to start the cart.
  • Golf cart steering wheel clubs are similar to the “The Club” used to lock an automobile steering wheel. It’s hard for a thief to drive off in a cart they can’t steer.
  • A wheel lock boot prevents the wheels from being able to roll. This product completely immobilizes the golf cart and prevents it from being driven.
  • A global position system (GPS) can be purchased for around $100. In the event someone does steal your golf cart, you can go online and track its exact location.
  • Golf cart insurance is another option. Comprehensive coverage can cover unavoidable incidents, such as theft and vandalism.

Residents who are victims of a golf cart theft should immediately contact the Riverside Sheriff’s Department. Suspicious persons and activity should also be reported to the police. After reporting the crime to the police, it’s a good idea to inform Community Patrol so the patrol officers can be on the lookout for the stolen cart.

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Donna Ritchie