Crime Beat – Neighbors gather for crime meeting

JSO officers share advice, experiences with concerned residents – 

By Susanna P. Barton –

Resident Community News –

About 40 residents gathered last month for a community meeting at Southside United Methodist Church following several summer vandalism and burglary incidents. Representatives from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer were on hand to answer questions and share advice, research and solutions with residents.
Residents of the Granada, Colonial Manor and Miramar areas shared their concerns about auto burglaries, solicitors, theft of exterior statues, egging, pellet gun shooting and suspicious activity in the park and neighborhood.
Lieutenant Bobby Deal, Zone 3 Commander, told residents that Zone 3 is one of the city’s biggest areas — the 150-square-mile section goes from the Southbank to Beach Boulevard and from the St. Johns River to the St. Johns County line. He said the area is a “magnet for auto burglaries.” There are 220 officers covering the zone, which includes San Marco, San Jose and Lakewood and other neighborhoods.
He explained how groups of teenagers will come into a neighborhood with backpacks on and go up and down local streets “just trying door handles. That’s just the nature of the beast,” he said. Called car hopping, the activity is most successful when doors are unlocked. Young criminals target high-priced items in cars including GPS monitors, iPhones and guns. Officers underscored how important it is to make sure cars are locked and valuables stashed inside.
The most effective way residents can react, he said, is to call the non-emergency number of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office with concerns or suspicions. In addition to potentially catching any criminals in the act, a phone call or report can help officers put pieces of a bigger puzzle together as they look for trends and connections. They also highlighted the city’s curfew laws for citizens under the age of 18. (see box) and encouraged residents to come to the monthly ShADCo meetings at Cuba Hunter Park. Many individuals attending the meeting were interested in forming neighborhood watch groups.
Deal and Lt. Jimmy Judge, who lives in the San Jose neighborhood and was personally aware of many of the neighbors’ concerns, said many crimes spike during the summer and school breaks.
“There is a direct correlation between teenagers being out of school and property crimes,” Judge said. “It’s not just here, it’s everywhere — the kids, they’re killing us.”
Throughout the evening, officers encouraged residents to communicate with the JSO about any suspicious activity — big or small.
“Please call us — without your partnership, we don’t know everything that’s going on and in the end, the criticism’s on us,” Judge said. “You pay taxes to outfit us, the more calls the better because it helps us get additional manpower out there.”

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