Rash of home burglaries have residents on alert

JSO provides tips for safe surveillance

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

Each year at this time, according to one Ortega Forest resident, there seems to be a spike in home and auto burglaries. Statistics shared by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at last month’s Sheriff’s Advisory Council (ShAdCo) meeting for Zone 4, Sector J bear that out.

Assistant Chief Pat Ivey, Zone 4 Commander, noted that during the period roughly late August to late September there were 56 reported residential burglaries in Sector J which spiked to 101 during the next 30 days. The trend, however, is on the downward slope. Officer Ivey reported that there were only 19 home or auto burglaries in the past seven days (Oct. 17-24) compared to 31 in the previous seven day period. Sector J includes the neighborhoods of Avondale, Fairfax, Fishweir, Lakeshore, Murray Hill, the Ortegas (Village, Forest, Farms, and Hills), Riverside and Venetia.

Police presence has been stepped up. Over the past month more patrol cars and bike officers were noted through Ortega Forest as well as Ortega Village.

ShAdCo members and guests at the Oct. 24 meeting also learned to be more judicious in what is communicated via email and homeowner association news. Officer Ivey suggested that a simple description of suspicious-looking or unknown persons or vehicles in the neighborhood is sufficient. He strongly advised against spreading any information that might hinder the ongoing investigations the JSO is undertaking about persons of interest.

Recent community emails included information that had been obtained from unofficial sources and Officer Ivey asked that concerned residents think twice about sharing something that has not come from the zone station.

According to Assistant Chief Ivey most residential burglaries in Jacksonville (95 percent) occur during daylight hours when criminals have determined that nobody is home. They ring the doorbell or knock first to determine if someone is at home. If they don’t hear dogs barking or get an answer at the door, they will try to find a concealed entrance or sometimes simply kick in the front door. Even if an alarm goes off, they will enter, grab a television and exit before police have a chance to respond.

Auto burglaries happen mostly at night, where the criminal is taking advantage of the cover of darkness and an easy target.

Officer Ivey said that one way to help the police is to get as accurate of a description as possible of any vehicles that are driving or parked where they are not supposed to be. Try to obtain a license plate number and a photo of the car if you can safely do so.

It helps to have security cameras on the perimeter of the home, and aimed to pick up the street area in front of the home as well, providing a view of vehicles as well as suspects if there were to be a break-in.

When calling the police non-emergency number, (904) 630-0500, to report suspicious activity, ask to speak with an officer, get the name and badge number of the responding officer and ask the responding officer to create a report. Officers will try to locate the suspects in the vicinity and talk with them.

Assistant Chief Ivey noted that one of the most important things residents can do is to continue reporting anything suspicious – no matter how insignificant – to the police non-emergency number. Provide accurate descriptions of any vehicles (color, make and model, tag number and photos if possible) and accurate descriptions of suspects (hair color, clothing, gender, distinguishing marks, gait, facial hair, tattoos).

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