Police warn about recent van thefts

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office warning residents to be vigilant

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is warning drivers about a recent rash in Ford van thefts in Jacksonville.

"We are reaching out to the public because we need more information," said JSO Public Information Officer Shannon Hartley.

JSO told Channel 4 Tuesday night that 10 e-series, econo-line and club wagons were reported stolen in the last 30 days.

The first van theft was reported on Feb. 3 on West Edgewood Avenue and the most recent happened Feb. 23, where a van was stolen from Commonwealth Avenue. A few hours later, another van was stolen from the same West Edgewood address as the Feb. 3 incident.

Investigators said there are similarities between all 10 of the stolen van cases. So far, they don't have any surveillance video to try and track the thieves.

Police do know that all the vans are Ford vans, and are asking the public to help find who might be the thief.

"We're seeing them being taken from schools, day cares, churches -- that sort of thing, different location types," said Hartley.

Employees at the Westside business, where the vans were stolen from, didn't want to talk on camera, but told Channel 4 that the van was recovered the same day it was taken, only stripped of many of its parts.

The van was found just two blocks from where it was stolen; JSO said that's how many of the stolen vans have ended up -- stripped, just blocks from where it was stolen.

RELATED: 10 Ford vans stolen in 30 days

"I know, for example, nine of the vehicles are white. One of them is blue. Nine of them happened on the west side of town. One of them happened on the east side of town," said Hartley. "Auto theft is one of those driving numbers in Jacksonville's crime, so anytime that we can bring a halt to that, we're going to do so."

Hartley told Channel 4 that it's how the thieves are taking the vans that seems to change in each case and police still don't know what the vans are being used for. Investigators said those issues and a wide variety of suspect descriptions have made it tough to connect all the dots between the cases.

Deputies are warning the public to remain vigilant.

"Get an alarm if possible, make sure it's locked, don't leave valuables where it's visible, if you can park somewhere that is well lit or has surveillance, any extra added thing you can do to protect that vehicle, we would recommend you take advantage of that," said Hartley.

Anyone with information on the van thefts are being asked to call Crimestoppers at 866-846-TIPS.

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