WALDORF, Md. - The Charles County Sheriff's Office is asking for help in identifying some suspects they believe are behind a rash of thefts from cars in which handicap placards are being targeted.
Officials say they saw an alarming uptick of this crime in October in which thieves either smashed car windows or opened unlocked doors - all to steal a plastic tag hanging in plain sight.
Anna Drazba says she feels vulnerable after hearing thieves stole several handicap placards from the elderly and the disabled in her community.
"People [who] qualify to park here should have every right to and not worry about having their placard stolen," she said.
The Charles County Sheriff's Office says more than 20 cars were hit at various locations near Smallwood Village in recent weeks. Some thefts happened at night to cars parked in driveways or along public streets. Other thefts have occurred during the day from vehicles parked legally in designated handicapped spaces.
One incident was caught on surveillance video at the Old Washington Road Park and Ride. The footage shows a suspect riding a bicycle.
Investigators say it is common for stolen handicap placards to be sold on the black market to those looking for better and longer parking at reduced rates.
Meanwhile, investigators have also released surveillance pictures from a Waldorf liquor store related to another handicap placard theft in the area. The two suspects seen in these pictures also stole a credit card from the car in this theft and later tried to use it. However, detectives do not believe these men are linked to the other thefts.
The sheriff's office recommends putting your handicap placard out of sight when it does not need to be displayed.
A $1,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.