Sunrise Beach businesses hit by repeated burglaries

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SUNRISE BEACH - Business owners in Sunrise Beach are dealing with several burglaries; some of which have cost them thousands of dollars worth of merchandise.

"I really can't remember, any time in my entire career, or even living in the lake in general, that it's been such a problem," said Heartland Marine sales manager Brandon Johnson.

He said it's a surprise in an area generally considered safe.

"You know, most people in the community, they leave their-- I hate to even say-- but keys in the car, doors unlocked," he said. "It's a friendly area where people watch out for one another. I've never seen so much theft."

Johnson says Heartland Marine and the storage unit place across the street, All-Star Storage, have been targets. Burglars have stolen from Heartland Marine three times so far this year.

The owner of another boat dealership, who didn't want his business or himself to be named, said he has been the target of burglars twice. He recently installed a new security system as a result.

Johnson and the other owner said the burglars stole similar items from both: boat parts and stereo equipment. They said they believe the burglars are most likely drug addicts looking for a way to fund their addiction.

Johnson said the stereo equipment alone is worth thousands of dollars. He thinks the same group of people is behind some of the burglaries at Heartland, since they seemed to know where things were.

Heartland Marine has contacted both the Sunrise Police Department and the Camden County Sheriff's Office about the thefts, but they haven't told him about suspects yet. The owner of the other boat dealership said he doesn't expect anyone to ever be arrested.

On Wednesday, Johnson posted on Facebook about the latest burglary, which happened Sept. 29. The post included a link to security footage he uploaded on YouTube. He said he wanted to ask the community for help tracking down the burglars. (See video below.)

"The Camden County Sheriff's Department does a great job watching the area, Sunrise Beach Police Department does a good job, too, but no one's going to do as good a job as the community of watching each other's back," Johnson said.

Both Johnson and the other boat dealership owner said they have been searching all over the internet for postings of the stolen property, but they haven't had any luck so far.

"You know, I wish these guys would have stopped and asked if there was anything they could do for money because we have plenty of work that can be done," Johnson said.