Q: Have we been seeing an increase in crime in St. Johns County?
A: We do have an increase, but it is not violent crime. Our increase has been in property crime, and it can largely be prevented with proper action by citizens. 

What we at SJSO want everyone to remember is the 9 p.m. Routine: Lock it Up. This means that every night at 9 p.m., before you go to bed, get in the habit of locking your car, securing any valuables inside your car, and locking the doors to your home.

Q: Can you share any recent statistics?
A: From Jan. 1, 2022 to Aug. 1, 2022, we had 75 firearms stolen in burglaries, including motor vehicles, residential, and commercial properties. Out of the 48 firearms stolen out of vehicles (11 firearms were stolen from just one vehicle), 46 of them had unlocked car doors. Only two were stolen in smash and grabs.

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What this says is we in St. Johns County are making ourselves a soft target for the criminal element. We are known for leaving firearms, as well as credit cards, valet keys, laptops and golf clubs in our unlocked cars, and often in a visible area. 

Keep in mind too, that if you leave your car unlocked, your home is also vulnerable since many people have garage door openers in their cars.

Q: What suggestions do you have?
A: Again, at 9 p.m., do the 9 p.m. Routine: Check to make sure your doors are locked and your cars are locked every night. 

Also make sure to take a picture of the serial numbers on your firearms so you can provide that information in the event they are stolen. We can then make an accurate report to the National Crime Information Center. In two days recently, we had nine firearms stolen from unlocked cars — and none of the owners knew their serial numbers.

If you must leave your firearm in your car, leave it out of sight and locked in your trunk and remember to lock your car doors as well.

If you see something suspicious, report it to us immediately and let us triage or investigate. Even if nothing of real value is taken if your car is burglarized, report it to us as we may be able to get a fingerprint or DNA sample that could help with other burglaries.

Q: What is the best way for our readers to contact you with any questions or suggestions about this article?

A: They can email me at sheriff@sjso.org or call me at (904) 824-8304. Also, our website, www.sjso.org has a wealth of resources, from alarm registration to Crime Stoppers to our Neighbors app.

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