String of burglaries in Atlantic Beach

Guns, jewelry among items stolen in 10 separate thefts

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. - A string of home burglaries last month in Atlantic Beach has police and residents concerned.

Gifts, jewelry and guns were stolen in 10 separate thefts, and some cars were also vandalized.

Police said it's clear minors were involved in some cases, and some have been arrested. But other cases are much more serious.

Mike Wallace said when he walked in his house two weeks ago he knew something was wrong.

"I came home and my side window was busted in," he said. "I ran in the house to see if anyone was there. Notice that my PlayStation was taken, some Christmas presents, some jewelry and a firearm."

Wallace wasn't alone. He learned his neighbor's house had been vandalized, and not far from him was another burglary where a gun was stolen from a school board police officer.

Atlantic Beach detectives have been working these cases, and the question facing them is if it's the same people doing the crimes.

"We are not real sure this time," Cmdr. Tiffany Larson said. "Our detectives are working the investigations. They have made a couple of arrests and hopefully will make a couple more."

Those arrested are juveniles who have been involved in vandalism. Police are not sure if they were the ones involved in this more serious burglary where guns and jewelry have been taken. But police do know that this rash of burglaries has stopped since the first of the year.

"If anybody saw anything or knows anything, now that the kids are back in school, if you hear anything, we certainly want all of that information," Larson said.

"It's one thing when people break into your house and steal electronics, Xbox, those kind of things. But it's another issue totally when a weapon is stolen," Channel 4 crime analyst Ken Jefferson said. "That weapon now is in the hands of the wrong people."

Neptune Beach residents have also become victimized, and after some minors were arrested in those cases, the burglaries began to slow down, police said.

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