Officer's dog missing after home burglary in Murray Hill

JSO: Thieves took guns, jewelry, truck; possibly shot dog

By Scott Johnson - Reporter, Francesca Amiker - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Friends of a Jacksonville police officer are searching for his dog after he said burglars broke into his Murray Hill home Monday afternoon and stole guns, jewelry and his pickup truck.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the stolen pickup truck was recovered Tuesday evening following a pursuit and one person was taken into custody. 

His dog, Hemingway, has not yet been found. 

It's possible they also shot the dog. Inside the ransacked home, investigators found a spent shell casing and a large pool of blood.

"That's pretty low," neighbor Rick Kirk said. "I think they targeted him because they figured he had guns. I mean, with a cop car in front of the house he’s got to have guns."

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said that with missing firearms, blood at the scene and a ransacked house, there are a lot of avenues for police to track down who did this.

“They would handle as much physical evidence as they can, test the blood -- maybe it could belong to one of the suspects, hopefully. They may be able to get evidence that way as to who could have done this,” Smith said. “But there are other possible traces of physical evidence, too. There could be fingerprints.”

Surveillance video shows the thieves inside the house.

Smith said JSO takes it seriously whenever a firearm is stolen.

"They take them very seriously, not only because a police officer is involved but because you have a weapon that’s now out there on the street, a few weapons on the street," Smith said. "It’s very concerning to the police officers that are out there because who did this? Was it people in the neighborhood? He was a police officer.  Was it someone he was involved with in a criminal investigation, and now they’re targeting him?"

There is a $500 reward for the safe return of Hemingway, who is a pit bull and wears a brown leather collar.

The officer told News4Jax that he is doing OK, but he is worried about Hemingway.

Anyone with information on the location of the truck or Hemingway or any information about the burglary is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

2nd home burglarized less than 24 hours later

Less than 24 hours after a Jacksonville police officer's Murray Hill home was broken into, another nearby home was targeted.

Right after Charles Lee left for work Tuesday morning, surveillance video captured an intruder burglarizing his home on Polaris Street. 

"They could've been watching me get in my car, leave for work and it's really shocking," Lee said. 

On his way to work, Lee said he received a call from his security system saying his alarm had gone off. He immediately stopped to check the feed from his surveillance camera. 

"At 8:14, it showed a guy walking up to my front door, trying to peek into the front, but you couldn't really see and then within the next couple of minutes, the back door alarm went off," Lee said. "You could see that he was peeking through the window and trying to see if he could see anything, if there was anything to steal."

Image from Lee's surveillance camera

Lee said he felt violated. But he also considered himself more fortunate than the officer who had his truck and dog stolen when his home just four blocks away was burglarized Monday afternoon. 

"Nothing was taken. I don't know if it was just the alarm that scared him off, but I'm glad," Lee said. 

Police have not said whether the two burglaries are linked.

Lee, who has lived in Murray Hill for two years, said he's never had a problem until the incident Tuesday morning. He said he hopes his neighbors will learn from what happened to him. 

"Having an alarm system really helped out today. At least, having some type of audible noise to, at least, scare the intruder off would be great," he said. 

According to JSO, there have been 12 burglaries, robberies in thefts within a half-mile of Lee's home in the last month. 

Anyone with information about either burglary is asked to anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.

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