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Fort Walton Beach storage room theft
FORT WALTON BEACH -- Investigators say a Fort Walton Beach man stole almost ten thousand dollars worth of other people's stuff....by breaking into their storage units. William Hopkins has been charged with grand larceny, dealing in stolen property, and resisting arrest without violence.
The thefts took place at U-haul Self Storage on Beal Parkway, and at Personal Storage in Destin. Some people didn't know they'd been robbed....until deputies found their things in the suspect's house.
Laura Hussey "Investigators say William Hopkins stole from storage units for quite a while without being noticed, here's now he did it. He would cut this padlock off with bolt cutters, take whatever he wanted from inside, then he'd replace it with a brand new lock so everything looked normal"
Employees at U-haul Self Storage on Beal Parkway say William Hopkins was a nice guy and a good customer. When they auctioned off unclaimed merchandise from storage units, he'd buy several at a time and re-sell the contents.
Deputies say he was also selling stolen property.....not a comfortable thought for people who've used storage units.
Michael Castleberry of Fort Walton Beach says, "It's my stuff, at that point it's my stuff, it's noone else's. I don't want anybody else taking anything that belongs to me or my family"
Some things that were stolen were purely sentimental, like family photographs. Others were quite pricey, like this surveying equipment. Many of the victims didn't know their things were gone until they were contacted by the Sheriff's Office.
Keith Hopson of Fort Walton Beach says, "It'll probably make me check it more often, just to make sure everything is up and up."
The stolen goods were stashed in Hopkins' own storage units, and in his home on Bradford Drive.....DVDs, clothing, camping equipment, Christmas decorations.
Kitty Nelson of Fort Walton Beach says, "That's crazy, you know. Don't take other people's stuff" "That's just rude"
Another man says, "I wouldn't put it beyond people anymore. A lot o people lose...just the respect of themselves it seems like"
Laura Hussey "The Sheriff's Office is reminding people...if you have a storage unit, check on it every so often, make sure everything is the way you left it."