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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Feb. 18, 2019 7 months ago

Ormond Beach Police doubles its crime prevention efforts

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As the city sees a spike in car breaks, the agency has upped the number of issued Lock it or Lose it cards.
by: Jarleene Almenas News Editor

Just after 11 a.m. as Ormond Beach Police Officer Dan Jordan patrolled the parking lot at Granada Plaza, he spotted a new iPhone propped up on a red SUV's cupholder. 

He shook his head, and started filling out one of OBPD's crime of opportunity report cards. When he finished, he pulled open the unlocked driver side door and laid the card on the seat. The act didn't trigger a car alarm — only a gentle chime.

“See that?" Jordan says. "You could see it. That’s one of the examples.”

In two hours on Thursday, Feb. 14, Jordan issued 13 of these cards warning people of leaving valuables like purses, cell phones and GPS devices visible inside their vehicles. It's a way for the agency to fight the number one crime in the city: Car breaks.

Based on OBPD's crime view data as of Feb. 11, car breaks are up by 55% compared to this time last year. So far, the city has seen 42 incidents compared to the 27 cases year to date in 2018. Overall, there were 392 reported car breaks in Ormond Beach in 2018. 

At the same time, OBPD has upped its crime prevention tactics. The agency's distribution of crime of opportunity report cards, also known as LOL cards for the Lock it or Lose it educational campaign, has increased by 150% compared to 2018. Officers have more than doubled their efforts, having handed out 875 cards so far. At this time in 2018, officers had handed out 349.

Ormond Beach Police Chief Jesse Godfrey said car breaks should go down with the amount of cards distributed, but that this was only a two-week cycle, and numbers fluctuate. 

That 55% spike presented during the agency's crime view meeting should be an alarm bell for the officers. It directs them to where extra patrol efforts need to be placed, and the LOL cards are part of that. 

But at the end of the day, he said the responsibility lies with the citizens.

“Ultimately, we can’t lock the cars for the citizens," Godfrey said.

'What they leave behind'

During patrol, Jordan stopped at the public parking lot off East Granada Boulevard facing the tennis courts by The Casements. He peered inside the vehicles parked there, and explained that this lot was a common area for car breaks. People sometimes leave their cars unlocked or purses in the front seats while they play tennis. 

In between two vehicles, he pointed out a smattering of glass shards on the asphalt.

“This is where somebody got hit before," Jordan said. "That’s why you see the leftover glass. This shows how frequent we are in this area.”

“When you’re trying to do as much as you can with the amount of resources that you’re given, crime prevention is one of the best ways of tackling that."

Dan Jordan, Ormond Beach Police Officer 

No cars were left unlocked this time though. There also weren't any valuables visible. This was a welcome surprise for Jordan, who often stops by this lot during his patrol shift.

He doesn't always have a lot of time to check cars and place LOL cards. On busy days where officers are responding to multiple calls, he will place at least five. But there have also been days where the number of LOL cards he fills out climbs up to the double-digits. The most he's ever filled out in one day in 50, he said. 

From purses and laptops, to mail with visible account numbers and guns, Jordan has seen a lot. He's seen people leave behind wads of cash in the passenger seat. Some of these items were left in unlocked vehicles.

Jordan encounters a visible gun inside a car about two or three times a year. The last time he saw one was two months ago in Granada Plaza.

“People really take for granted what they leave behind," Jordan said.

Locations like Gold's Gym, daycares, Nova Community Center, Planet Fitness and Fortunato Park are other common areas for car breaks.

Jordan said that three years ago, they arrested a man known to commit burglaries in the area. He said the man mentioned that Ormond Beach was a "place to hit" among local thieves because residents leave their stuff unlocked and that there weren't a lot of police officers in the city. 

If that's the rumor, Jordan said, the agency has to be proactive rather than reactive. 

“Ultimately, we can’t lock the cars for the citizens."

Jesse Godfrey, Ormond Beach Police Chief

“When you’re trying to do as much as you can with the amount of resources that you’re given, crime prevention is one of the best ways of tackling that," Jordan said.

Criminals are looking for the "easy target," Godfrey said. 

Unlocked cars with valuables is "way too common" in the city, he said, and while locking vehicles is important, so is hiding visible merchandise. He said thieves want to pull up to a car, grab something and run off.

“They’re going to break the window," Godfrey said. "There’s only a piece of glass separating those two things from each other.”

Second chances

Car breaks have been an issue in the city for years, Jordan said. He's spent 17 years with the agency. The LOL cards were created about 10 years ago, though OBPD has capitalized on them for the last five. 

Having people come up to him and report their stuff stolen in an unlocked vehicle is one of the most disappointing things for Jordan. Sometimes, these cars are ones he or another officer had left an LOL card in the past. That doesn't happen often, Jordan said.

“You feel bad," Jordan said. Or I feel bad. I guess you could say I take it personally.”

He said it's because after a person gets their property stolen, there isn't much an officer can do to help. Guns are traded in the streets and merchandise is pawned quickly. 

Aside from the LOL cards, OBPD also began holding public crime view meetings in 2015. The agency became active on social media with its #9PMroutine urging residents to lock up their vehicles shortly after Capt. Chris Roos came onboard in March 2017.

Godfrey said OBPD has received mostly favorable reviews from the citizens on the agency's LOL cards, though sometimes they'll get an email from someone telling them to stop placing them on their car.

One of the cars Jordan singled out while patrolling the parking lot at Planet Fitness had already been issued an LOL card. It was crumpled in the back seat. Jordan didn't leave him another.

But Godfrey said he believes the prevention tactics matter because of the community contact between residents and the officers. 

Jordan said he is passionate about the initiative. He writes down the reason he leaves the LOL cards on every single one. 

"While it didn’t happen, we’re out telling you what could happen," Jordan said. "It’s like a reverse type of education.”

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