Rash of burglaries has neighbors on edge

Lakewood neighbors banding together to create neighborhood watch


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Lakewood residents said they've been plagued with a string of burglaries and are now trying to start a neighborhood watch.

Residents said there have been about a dozen break-ins in the past few weeks within just a few blocks.

They said no one has been hurt, but they're worried about their safety, saying eventually, something really bad is going to happen.

Now, neighbors are banding together to banish the burglars.

"We have neighbors just down the street -- the truck actually backed up into her driveway with a ladder that they used to climb and get into her house," Odie Dolores said.

Dolores has lived in Lakewood since the 1980s. She said it's a nice, quiet community, but lately, that image is changing.

"Enough is enough. We are tired. We are frightened, and we need some help," Dolores said. "It is to the point where I'm afraid somebody's going to get hurt."

She said many of her neighbors have fallen victim to having their cars broken into and homes invaded. In one case, a gun was stolen.

WATCH: Surveillance video of burglary suspects

"I have gone door to door to get their addresses, phone numbers," Dolores said.

She is working to get other neighbors to sign a petition, calling for an official neighborhood watch, and she's begging the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office for help.

Police records show 27 home burglaries since the beginning of the year, as well as 25 vehicle break-ins and 12 auto thefts.

"You're doing the right thing by getting the neighborhood watch started," News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said.

Smith, a former JSO officer, said Dolores' plan to ban together is a good one as long as everyone gets involved.

"Once you start the neighborhood watch, then the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office will come in and they will let you know what you need to do," Smith said. "They will show you how to go about doing it."

Officers have increased patrols in the area.

Many of the burglarized vehicles were left unlocked, and Smith said that's a reminder to make sure vehicle doors are locked at all times and valuables are out of sight. 

There's no word yet on whether police believe the crimes are the work of just one person or multiple offenders but detectives do have surveillance video of a burglary in the nearby San Marco area, which they released Tuesday.

The video shows two men inside a home on North Peachtree Circle. Police said the men forced open the front door just after 9 a.m. Tuesday and ransacked the home, taking electronics and jewelry.

Anyone who has any information on the identity of the men is asked to contact the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500 or email JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous and receive a possible reward up to $3,000, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.