TAMPA (FOX 13) - A popular accessory for hauling lawn equipment and junk has become the target of thieves in Hillsborough County. Authorities are warning owners of utility trailers to take a simple step to protect their property.
According to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, two suspects were caught on camera stealing a 14-15 foot open utility trailer around 4:30 a.m. on Thursday from JR Hauling Service, 9472 McIntosh Road in Dover.
The theft is one of several deputies have seen throughout the county, where thieves latch on and drive off with utility trailers left unattended and unsecured.
"A lot of people will start their own lawn business, or they'll want to haul trash, or whatever the purpose is that you use these trailers," said Larry McKinnon, spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. "It's a quick and easy way to get them."
McKinnon said owners often make the mistake of leaving their trailers in their yard or in an open field where thieves can easily drive off with them.
The Sheriff's Office is encouraging owners to protect their property by joining the Hillsborough County Trailer Identification Program (T.I.P.).
Deputies take a photo of the trailer for their records and assign it a unique number.
""[The number] is engraved in the trailer, and it's hidden," said McKinnon. "Our goal is not only to prevent the thefts, but get them back to the owners once we've found them."
Owners can stop by any patrol district to enroll in T.I.P. free of charge. For more information, visit http://www.hcso.tampa.fl.us/Articles/Articles/Trailer-Identification-Program.aspx
A similar identification program is offered to bicycle owners.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is hosting a free bicycle registration event on Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., at Westchase Elementary School, 9517 W. Linebaugh Avenue in Tampa.
For more information on the bicycle registration event, visit http://www.hcso.tampa.fl.us/About-HCSO/Press-Releases/Releases/2017/March/17-127.aspx