A series of car thefts and break-ins in Wellington has residents, including show jumper Mavis Spencer, rethinking their security and safety plans.

“Everyone needs a gentle reminder of the realities of what’s happening,” she said.

“Everyone thinks that because Wellington is such an affluent community, [they’re safe], but doing things like putting your keys away and locking them up, making sure your golf cart and dirt bikes are parked away out of sight and not right in front of the barn are little things you can do that you sort of take for granted but that everyone should be a little more conscious of [doing].”

Mavis was one of the victims of a break-in, as her grooms discovered a man trespassing on the property where she keeps her horses while they were conducting a routine night check in Grand Prix Village. No horses were harmed, and no items were stolen, but the trespasser escaped, leaving behind evidence he was trying to steal some dirt bikes that Spencer had locked up in a stall.

“We lock all of our dirt bikes and golf carts up at night, and two of the locks were obviously cut, but we also put the dirt bikes in a stall and lock the stall, so they must not have had something to get through the padlock we have on it,” Mavis said.

Seemingly no possession, nor condition, is off limits for the criminals, as Tiffany Foster’s Range Rover was stolen right out of her driveway on the evening of December 5 after the CSI4* $216,000 Holliday & Horses Grand Prix. Another vehicle was broken into at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in broad daylight the following afternoon.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department is using the slogan “Lock, Secure, Prevent” to educate the community on how to combat car thefts: “Lock your car, secure your valuables out of sight, and prevent vehicle burglaries.”

Here are some other helpful tips to stay safe and enhance your security measures:

• When parking your vehicle, especially at night, park in a brightly lit space near a security camera or on-site security guard.

• Do not leave your purse or any valuable belongings in your vehicle.

• Do not leave your keys in your golf cart or dirt bike. Keep them with you.

• Secure dirt bikes and golf carts with a tick gauge steel chain so that it cannot be cut with wire cutters. Lock them in stalls or garages for extra security.

• Lock your vehicle at night, even if you are parked in your own driveway and live in a gated community. Be sure to also lock up your tack stall at the horse show or your barn’s tack room.

• Keep a light on in your barn, your home, and your driveway at night.

• Equip your barn with a security system. This can include night-watch cameras, laser tripping systems, or motion detectors. Advertise them around your property to deter criminal activity. Split the fees among your barn mates to help make things more cost effective.

“Now, I have all-night security,” said Missy Clark. “I’m lucky enough that I have enough clients that when you divide [the cost] up, it’s incredibly reasonable. I’m in the midst of putting the camera system in, and I hired night watch.”

• Organize a neighborhood crime watch with your barn and community or hire drive-around nighttime security.

• At the horse show, communicate with those stabled near you and team up to look out for your neighbors’ horses and belongings. Know your neighbors, so you can be aware if someone unfamiliar or suspicious approaches your neighbor’s stalls.

“Wherever you’re stabled, I think everybody should get together and figure out a solution where everyone is keeping their eyes open,” Missy said.

• Establish a relationship with night watchmen at the horse show. Know who they are, and communicate regularly with them. At home, conduct your own night watch or hire a personal night watchman.

• If you are faced with a disgruntled employee, change your locks.

• Be constantly aware of your surroundings, especially at night.

And remember, communicate any findings or suspicious activity to the police, immediately.