There are two distinct crime patterns that the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office would like business owners to be aware of and is urging them to take steps to protect their properties.
The first trend includes burglaries during which older model stolen pickup trucks are used to break in the front door of convenience or dollar stores, police said.
Over a two week, span five businesses have been burglarized between the hours of 2:15 a.m. and 4:45 a.m., and each incident varies as to what was stolen. The burglars have been described as one or two white men, with a possible third person of an unknown race.
Investigators recommend that business owners consider protecting their property by placing bollards (poles, pylons, obstructions) in front of any entrance that could be accessed by this method of operation, including glass front buildings or doors.
"They essentially create a blockade in front of a fragile entry point like a glass front or a glass door," JSO spokesman Shannon Hartley said.
The second trend includes grand theft of backflow valves from businesses along the Philips Highway corridor. There have been 16 incidents this year, including four incidents in the last eight days, and each incident has occurred overnight.
"Presumably they are taking that and trying to pawn it off and at a secondary metal recycler," Hartley said. "They really don't get that much money for the metal in return. It just seems to be an easy crime of opportunity."
The following actions are being recommended by the American Backflow Prevention Association and law enforcement:
- Enclose your backflow valve(s) with a protective cage.
- Secure it with a tamper-proof lock ("break-away" locks are easily opened and not recommended). In case of emergency, your maintenance crew should have a copy of the lock's key.
- The cage should be securely mounted to the cement pad on the ground and painted a desert color to match landscape.
- Make sure the cage has lock guards to prevent their removal.
- Stamp, label or identify the metal with a recognizable code or name of your own.
- Paint the unit with a desert color.
- Post a visible warning that there is video surveillance on the units. Also on the signs, something to the effect of "theft and damage to this unit will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
- Camouflage the unit by planting screening landscape a foot or so from the backflow. This will make the unit less visible while still allowing for necessary maintenance access.
- Record model and serial numbers of all backflow devices.
- Install a small wall to hide backflow devices.
Anyone who has any information about the identity or location of anyone involved in either of these crime trends is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.