JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Business owners on Jacksonville’s Southside said thieves are stealing trucks, trailers and expensive auto parts again and again.
One owner said dozens of trailers have been stolen in the past month all in the area near Powers Avenue and University Boulevard.
Jim Garza, who owns Reliant Engineered Products on Powers Avenue, said the thieves don’t care that his business complex has cameras covering all the angles.
“It just amazes me, it’s so blatant,” he said. “They don’t care. They know there’s cameras watching them. They don’t care.”
Garza pointed to video from Sept. 7 which shows a man in a light Ford pickup truck pull up and steal an expensive hydraulic trailer, which his son owns for his contracting company.
The Garzas had installed an anti-theft lock, but it didn’t do the job.
“I’ve been hit five times over the last two years alone,” he said.
In July, someone stole their F-350 work pickup truck, worth about $35,000. It had been stolen and recovered before. This time, it hasn’t been found. Garza said almost all of his neighbors are victims. He said the thefts were in the ‘dozens.’
In August, an I-TEAM investigation showed thieves in the same general area cutting out catalytic converters from trucks and SUVs, seeking precious metals which have spiked in value during the pandemic. Criminals were able to cut out the automotive parts within minutes without being phased by cameras.
“This is the impact it has on small businesses,” said a frustrated Garza, worried about his neighbors. “Some of these guys live paycheck to paycheck, when someone steals their trailer and all their equipment, they’re out of business overnight. They’ve got bills to pay.”
Jacksonville police acknowledge they’re investigating a number of trailer thefts. The I-TEAM asked them just how many through a records request and is waiting to hear back.
JSO recently sent out a bulletin from the Old St. Augustine Road and Sunbeam Road areas, sharing pictures of a man in a Ford pickup wanted for trailer thefts. It’s unclear if this is related to the Powers Avenue crimes.
“I believe it’s going to happen and some business owner is going to get severely hurt or killed because he’s gonna walk into his business in the middle of one of these things going down,” Garza predicted. “That’s my biggest concern.”
If you know who’s behind the thefts or where the stolen goods are, call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at 904-630-0500 or First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS. You could be eligible for a reward if an arrest is made through Crime Stoppers.