Skip to Content

Our Panama City Beach Vacation Attempted Break in Story

Sharing is caring!

Last month our family embarked on a week-long trip to Panama City Beach, Florida. Our normal beach vacation was cut short in 2020. Because of that, we decided to try a different time of year.

The drive down was wonderful. We had a large minivan that had plenty of room for all of our things. Even the dog had perfect room. This was his second beach trip and he did even better the second time around than we did the first.

This trip was supposed to be perfection — with every one of us getting time to rest and relax. However, our first night in Panama City Beach, our beach house had an attempted break-in — while we were there!

I have been hesitant to share this story. For me, I did not want to say anything negative about the place we rented from. But then, I found out that they screen the reviews left on their properties.

It made me think that maybe someone else had been through this — and that I want to stop this from happening to someone else.

Renting From BookPCB.Com

From the get-go, the beach house we rented seemed perfect. The property is called Emerald Surf. It is located at 8208 Surf Drive, and it was exactly everything I was looking for in a beach house.

  • On the beach
  • Pet friendly
  • Personal swimming pool
  • Beach access from the house
  • Fenced in area for the dog
  • lots and lots of space

It had a full upstairs complete with a kitchen, two bedrooms, and a patio entrance. The patio entrance had stairs that led to the bottom of the patio.

I wish that this house would have had a doorbell camera. It would have made it even safer for me.

We were so excited to stay here. Both of our grown kids thought about staying upstairs. But then at the last minute, they changed their minds and decided to sleep downstairs where we were.

I was so thankful that they did this.

That night, Stephen pulled our van into the garage. We turned the front porch lights and the back porch lights on. Little did we know, there was a security light to turn on for the upstairs patio door. By not turning it on, it was dark up there.

Getting Woken Up at 1:30am

Around 1:30 in the morning, on our first night of vacation, my husband and I were awakened. The dog was growling and looking at the ceiling. That is when we heard the noise. It sounded like something clanging and beating upstairs. I just assumed it was the gate leading from the top patio.

I brushed it off and laid there, but my husband was on high alert. The sound never stopped. it kept going. My husband looked at me and said those words that no one ever wants to hear. “I think someone is trying to break in.”

You just never think something like that would happen to you. I sat there in disbelief for a few moments, but my husband was already in action. He ran and went to wake up our son. The WHOLE time the sound is still going on upstairs and at this point, I am scared to death.

Milo let me put his harness on him immediately. He never does this, so he knew something was going on as well. We went into the bedroom where my daughter was sleeping. I woke her up and told her what was going on.

Stephen and Robert started up the steps to the upstairs. The sound kept getting louder and louder. Stephen called out a few times to let them know we were there. It wasn't until my son shined the flashlight on the door. Whoever it was, took off running down the back stairs.

They got a good look at the door. Someone had tried to rip the patio door off the hinges and enter the house through the top patio door.

Calling the Cops

We called the cops and they came out and took our report. The cops looked all around the beach house. They agreed that it was definitely an attempted break-in and that we were lucky.

They shrugged it off as a possible Spring Breaker who had had too much to drink. The cops suggested it was someone who was at the wrong house. We didn't feel the same way because of how fast they ran down the stairs.

The cops took all of our statements. They promised to give us extra patrol for the remainder of our vacation. That night, they parked out front of the beach house that night.

To be honest, after that, I could not sleep all night. My son and I stayed awake and watched Kitchen Nightmares, keeping each other company. When one got tired, the other slept. We were both scared by that. We had never been through anything like that before.

Dealing with the Rental Company

The next morning, I called the rental company we rented from and let them know exactly what happened. She was genuinely sorry that we had been through that.

She assured me that this had never happened before at this property. They brought out extra sticks to put in the patio doors for extra protection. We were glad that they did this.

Then a couple of days later, she called back and offered us $200 in gift cards to the Firefly restaurant. That was thoughtful of her. We did enjoy the dinner and were grateful for the gift cards. We had already been planning to eat here anyway.

But, it still did not take away the uncertainty we were feeling.

Leaving a Review with

Now, here's where I have the problem. Once we got home from our trip, I started looking at the reviews listed on this property. I noticed that MY review was not listed. Once you complete a stay at their property, they send you a survey to fill out.

That survey is your review. If they like what you say, then they ONLY post those reviews. There is not one bad review listed here. It just makes me wonder — has this happened before? Or have other people had issues staying at this home?

House Issues

Any properties I have stayed at in Gulf Shores, etc have always allowed their renters to leave an honest review — things that need to be fixed, ways to improve others' stays in their beach houses. I have never stayed somewhere that literally policed the comments that were allowed to be left on the property listings.

That was the reason I decided to share my personal review on MY blog and social media. I want the truth to be out there. What if it happens again, and someone might not be as lucky as us? I want people to be informed.

So yes — while this property screams “perfect beach house”, it needs some attention. There were broken locks on multiple doors, a security system that doesn't even work. The dryer never worked so we could not do laundry. I had to call in multiple times when we arrived to get codes to unlock things. The people that stayed in the house before us had literally LOCKED every device in the house.

The kicker though is that the house is located right next to the public beach access. This is not noted on the property listing and I think it should be. Had I known it was right next to the beach access, I would not have rented this house.

I want others to be informed when renting this beach house. I want others to know that there was an attempted break-in here. The investigating officer told me that there had been another break-in on this street in the earlier weeks as well.

From now on, I will definitely be asking a lot more questions when renting a beach house. I will most definitely not ever be renting from again.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Tina Purser

Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

I lived in PCB,FL. for 7years June,July, and August are the worse months to go. September after school starts back is a great time to go. Crime is all over the beach and getting worse every year. Laguna is the best area. The East end is horrible .

Jennifer Sikora

Tuesday 29th of June 2021

September is always a great month, however last year we had to cancel our whole beach trip because of the hurricane (we went to Gulf Shores) so we decided to try a different time. I am thinking that September is always a great time to go!


Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

Thanks for sharing your story just last month we stay at the hotel across from those beach houses we wanted to rent one but thought about it was just too close to the beach if we wanted to go in and relax we will still hear the noise from the folks on the beach so we decided not to get it..But I’m glad you and your family are safe

Jennifer Sikora

Tuesday 29th of June 2021

Thank you! Yes. It was always noisy and there were always other people camped out in front of our beach house so we never could go out there and just hang out. It's a public beach on that end. I have learned my lesson for sure.


Saturday 19th of June 2021

Exactly the reason to carry a firearm.That thug was out to do you harm.Times have changed.Protect your family.Simple solution.

Jennifer Sikora

Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

Yes. From here on out when we travel, we will be bringing our gun for sure.


Friday 18th of June 2021

I am a lifelong local here in Panama City Beach and I can tell you that people are robbed here all the time. And if he got down that little staircase fast he had done it before. People know what tourists pay for those rental houses and know every home is as full as it could be of people's expensive devices and cameras and clothing. We have such a huge transient population in the summer that it's hard for them to catch the people because they just take off to the next place. I'm sorry you had a bad experience. It sounds terrifying.

Jennifer Sikora

Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

Thanks for sharing that. Yes. It was terrifying and I hope to never experience that again.


Thursday 17th of June 2021

People make mistakes and it easily could’ve been a person returning to the wrong house. The article headline is very misleading because NO ONE broke in. Also to think you can let your guard down while traveling is absurd. Crime is every where including vacation destinations.

I live in the area and it happens all the time, people truly forget the places/rooms they are in while drinking. Most of houses and condos look a like, easy mistake, but to try to blast the rental company or home owner is just ridiculous. They have zero control of a persons drunkenness or ones character.

By all means share your story but leave the rental company and home owners out of it, 100% nothing to do with what happened.

Joanna Hartzog

Monday 21st of June 2021

@Jennifer Sikora, They can disagree with a review.& contest it with listing site (AIRBNB & VRBO)to not have it posted.

Jennifer Sikora

Thursday 17th of June 2021

We did not let our guard down. We were SLEEPING and thought we were secure in our beach house. I have adjusted the title to include the word "attempted" to please you. The reason the rental company is on blast, as I have explained before, is because they have the reviews for their property set to where they publish ONLY the positives. I left them a list of a few things that needed improvement for others to have a great beach vacation in the home. Things like locks that were broken that needed to be fixed, etc., and I also left them a positive comment letting them know our family enjoyed the home even though we had the issue of almost being broken into. HOWEVER, my review is not posted because there were negative issues. For me, if someone is covering up reviews and only posting positive things, then that is shady to me. That is why I called them out. Not because of the attempted break-in.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.