Rash of Downtown Jacksonville smash-and-grabs under investigation

JSO says there's been a recent increase in car break-ins along Bay Street and nearby areas.

Police officers are investigating a series of car burglaries reported in Downtown Jacksonville.

Specifically, they’ve happened near the Hyatt hotel and near popular bars on Bay Street and surrounding side streets.

In many areas, auto burglaries are the result of people not locking their car doors. But in these instances, police say crooks have been smashing windows to get inside.

“You give a burglar or a thief an opportunity to steal from you, and they will take advantage of that,” said News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson.

Jacksonville police are warning people that their vehicle could still be targeted, even if valuables are not in plain view. This is why Jefferson said the worst place to hide valuables is under a seat.

“That’s the first place thieves look,” he said.

The second place is the center console, and the third is the glove compartment. But there is one hiding place that’s sometimes hard to get into.

“The best place is out of sight,” Jefferson said. “Put it in the trunk or keep it on your person.”

When a crook smashes your car door window, it’s not as loud as the sound of smashing a window or mirror in your home.

“It doesn’t bring as much attention to the car with that noise because the noise is so minimal,” Jefferson said.

And this is why these crimes, which aren’t far from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office headquarters often go undetected. According to a JSO crime map, there have been 13 reported auto burglaries and thefts within a half-mile radius of JSO headquarters since the beginning of February.

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