4 arrested in construction site thefts, Jacksonville police say

String of burglaries at Jacksonville, St. Johns County sites prompts crime alert

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four people have been charged with stealing appliances and other items from vacant homes, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

But police believe there are more thieves out there. 

It's the latest update to a neighborhood crime alert about a string of burglaries at construction sites in Northeast Florida.

It's a crime of opportunity, and with so much new construction, thieves have a lot of opportunities. Just Tuesday, someone stole four air conditioning units from four condos in Nocatee in St. Johns County. 

Reginald Luster told News4Jax Thursday that he had just finished construction on his North Jacksonville home and bought appliances days earlier.

"I got a call form my neighbor at about 5 a.m., and my neighbor said, 'Hey, sorry to tell you this, but your brand-new refrigerator is sitting outside on the front lawn," Luster said. "They took basically everything in the kitchen, all the appliances, and also they took two air conditioning units -- the two outside units."

Police said they caught the crook about 5 miles away from Luster's home, stopping him after he ran a red light. Investigators said they also discover that the vehicle he was driving was stolen.

Parrish Ponder, 30, was arrested on felony burglary and grand theft auto charges.

Luster believes the man worked with an accomplice.

"They have no respect for the fact that, I, as a homeowner work very hard," he said.

News4Jax has been reporting on a rash of burglaries at construction sites. It's a big problem in Jacksonville and St. Johns County deputies say there have been at least 22 over the last two months. 

While the cases can be hard to solve because the thieves are targeting empty sites at night, police have made arrests.

In August, police said, Rodrigues Singletary, Iron Bronner and Thomas Dennis were arrested after the trio stole several appliances from Westside home sites. Detectives said the items had electronic tracking devices, which led them to the crooks.

Luster said he's thankful he got his stuff back and hopes no one else gets hit. 

"I got every item back," he said. "As a matter of fact, I got to really compliment the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office."

Jacksonville police said this has been an ongoing problem for them, and they are reminding homeowners and builders to lock their doors, as well as valuables. Sometimes the criminals break in, but often the homes are left open, making it way too easy. 

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