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Police: Thieves target cars at Howard County's Centennial Lake Park

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-01 19:16:48-04

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. — The trails around Centennial Lake draw people from throughout Howard County, but it’s the parking lots, which have drawn the thieves.

Just ask Gwen Everett.

“When I got back to my car, not long after, I got an alert from my credit card company that charges very quickly, very high charges, were being made at a local store,” said Everett.

The charges came from the Home Depot in Ellicott City less than six miles away, and what started with a $2,000 purchase was followed in quick succession with another $5,000 worth of gift cards and tool buys.

Without the alert, Everett may never have realized someone had gotten into her car since her purse was still there with cash still inside it, but the next day, further evidence of the break in became apparent.

“This part had fallen off and then I realized how the individuals had gotten into my lock,” said Everett as she showed up a small section of the door handle with pry marks on it, which had fallen off.

Howard County Police said there have been three such break-ins reported at Centennial Park in the last two months alone.

“Take all your credit cards and valuables, cash, any electronics---take those out of your vehicle if you can, lock your vehicle, hide your valuables,” said Seth Hoffman, a department spokesman, “Do anything you can to make it harder for these people, because a lot of times, they’ll just move on to the next car, if the car’s locked or they don’t see anything in plain sight.”

It’s a warning that comes too late for Gwen Everett who has worked with her credit card and insurance companies to cover the thefts, but has lost her favorite place to enjoy the great outdoors in the process.

“No, as a result of early last week, I have not been back to Centennial Lake,” Everett said.