Emily Ford, Correspondent
A recent slew of car burglaries along the Mountain Street area have raised concerns for locals.
The University Police Department (UPD) has received five reports of vehicle burglaries in the university’s jurisdiction within the last three weeks. The Jacksonville Police Department, whose officers work closely with the UPD, has received additional reports within the same time frame.
JSU’s Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety, Michael Barton, estimates that there have been 10 reports of these burglaries between both departments in the last three weeks.
In each one of these cases, the door of the vehicle has been unlocked, and the items that were stolen have been left visible in the vehicle.
There have been no reports in which a window has been broken or forcible entry is evident. There was a similar vehicle burglary that occurred during Christmas break in which one window had been broken, but officials believe that incident was not connected to the more recent cases.
These crimes have all occurred between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., and many have been reported to have happened in the parking lots of various apartments along Mountain Street and in the Mountain Street mobile home park. It has been about a week since the most recent incident was reported.
None of the victims saw the thief, so the UPD has not made a positive I.D. at this time.
However, officials suspect that it is the same person who has committed all the burglaries based on the pattern of the location and timing. They also suspect that the thief lives in the Mountain Street area and is someone who is taking advantage of their neighbors.
They are encouraging anyone with information to come forward. Any tips given to the police will remain anonymous if the witness does not wish to be named. Tips and information can also be reported to Crime Stoppers anonymously.
The UPD is encouraging people on campus to take simple steps to protect themselves and their belongings.
These steps include locking all doors to vehicles, apartments or dorms, parking under a light or close to a building where people are present, and taking valuables out of the car. If there are valuables that cannot be taken out, keep them out of view, so a thief will not have a reason to get into the vehicle. Items can be locked in the trunk, put under the seat, covered up, or placed in the console.
These safety tips are important because thieves want to slip in as quietly and quickly as possible, so if a door is locked, they will often go to the next vehicle and look for an easy opportunity.
According to Capt. Brandon Singleton, “Last week, we had two cars that were broken into that were parked side by side. One of them had a wallet stolen, but the other one didn’t have anything taken because there was nothing to take, but both vehicles were unlocked in the parking lot.”
The UPD has had an extra presence in the Mountain Street area and has also communicated
with the residents in the area to be vigilant and to call 911 if they witness any suspicious activity.
“I encourage people to remember that safety and security are not just the responsibility of the police. It takes everybody to keep the community safe,” said Barton.