Police investigate string of car break-ins at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Police investigate string of car break-ins at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

LAKESIDE, Va. (WWBT) - Henrico Police are investigating a string of car break-ins at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Officers responded around 4:12 p.m. Sunday to the 1800 block of Lakeside Avenue for the apparent larcenies.

Three victims reported their cars had been broken into in the parking lots at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and items stolen in plain sight.

“My purse that I thought was concealed enough obviously wasn’t,” said Evan Bisharat, a victim. “So that was stolen along with my wallet and belongings in it.”

Bisharat said she and her family had gone to the garden to enjoy the beautiful weather only to come back to her mini-van and find the driver’s side window shattered.

“We called the police and talked to our kids about it,” Bisharat said. “It was a good opportunity for our kids to learn how police care about car break ins and how thorough they were to take finger prints and really trying to get justice for us.”

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden spokeswoman Beth Monroe said, “We take the safety of our guests as our top priority.”

Monroe added the larcenies are “very unusual” for the facility however encourages customers to keep valuables safe even if that includes bringing it with them.

There is security on the property, however Monroe did not reveal whether there were surveillance cameras in the parking lot.

Bisharat added the thief tried to use her family’s credit cards at a nearby grocery store shortly after police were called.

“They tried to spend $500 but we just beat them to the punch,” she said. “We had thankfully canceled them minutes before they tried to do that.”

Henrico Police said Bisharat wasn’t the only victim to have her car broken into. Two other visitors experienced the same thing Sunday afternoon.

"It was just all shattered out,” Bisharat said. “I don't think they opened the door because there were scratches here so it looks like they tried to lean in. There was no alarm going off, so I don't think they tried to open the door."

Since the break-in, Bisharat has avoided opening the driver’s side door.

“I’m climbing in because it’s taped up on that side,” she said.

Bisharat placed a garbage bag over the driver’s side window and punched a hole through the bag to allow for some form of visibility while driving.

“We haven’t been driving around too much except to come here (Auto Glass Now),” she said. “I wouldn’t want to [drive] if I didn’t have to.”

Bisharat is expected to have a new window replaced by Monday afternoon.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

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