CRESTVIEW — An increase in car burglaries has led to a new means of deterring area crime.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office stated in a Nov. 21 Facebook post, "Someone's responsible for a rash of car burglaries in the Brickhill Court area north of Crestview where money, electronics, and other items were taken!"

Stolen items also include clothing and an iPad, according to OSCO Public Information Officer Michele Nicholson. Officers recovered the iPad at a woodline in the neighborhood, but there are no current suspects.

OSCO Crime Prevention Manager Ashley Bailey said car burglaries in Crestview have spiked since August, mainly "… because we still have over 85 percent of vehicles to 90 percent of vehicles that are unlocked in Okaloosa County."

The simplest way residents can prevent car burglaries, Bailey said, is to follow three steps: "Lock Take Hide: Lock their car, take their keys, hide their belongings. We see a lot of people leaving stuff in plain view, so we have the smash-and-grabs to get those items."

Nextdoor, a neighborhood-based social media program, is a helpful tool to deter crime, according to the OCSO.

"The sheriff's office actually vetted them and looked at Nextdoor for almost a full year — eight months — before we decided to partner with them,” Bailey said. “It's for Neighborhood Watch specifically. Where Facebook is for everything and Twitter is for everything, Nextdoor is for neighborhoods specifically. Nextdoor was actually developed for individuals and neighborhoods to communicate with each other and get to know their neighbors.”

The sheriff's office can use Nextdoor to alert residents of area occurrences ranging from lost pets to crime. Membership is free, password protected and inaccessible to search engines.

“The really brilliant thing about Nextdoor is they actually do address verification, so if you don't actually live in that neighborhood, you actually cannot be part of the community,” Bailey said.

Anyone with information on the Brickhill Court burglaries may contact the OSCO, 651-7410, or Emerald Coast Crime Stoppers, 863-TIPS (8477).