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Clay County Sheriff's Office Warns About Rash Of Break-Ins


People living in Clay County are being told to lock the doors of their homes and cars after nearly a dozen crimes were reported over the past two weeks.

Investigators with the Clay County Sheriff's Office said homes were ransacked, and stolen items included guns, electronics and jewelry.

One homeowner even stopped a burglary in progress by honking a car horn when a burglar was caught trying to damage the front door of a home on Cattail Street in Middleburg, deputies said. The person ran away.

In another case, an Orange Park home on Hollycrest Boulevard was burglarized twice on two different days, investigators said. Both times, electronic items were stolen.

Deputies said it's not clear if the rash of crimes are connected to each other. But, they said people need to make sure their cars and homes are locked.

“If they're willing to steal, they're willing to do anything,” Middleburg resident Jerry Garcia said.

A gun and a knife were stolen from an unlocked truck on Munjack Court on Aug. 20, according to deputies. A gun worth $600 was also taken from a home on Marina Court in Keystone Heights the next day.

“They could be sold repeatedly,” CCSO Sgt. Eric Twisdale said. “More often than not, they're used in violent crimes, and unfortunately, some people get hurt or killed.”

Also on Aug. 20, deputies reported a home on Center Way in Middleburg was ransacked, and electronics were stolen. The next day, the front door of a home was damaged and electronic items were stolen from a home on Peppergrass Street in Middleburg, and two homes in the Hollycrest area of Orange Park had electronics stolen from them.

One of the Hollycrest homeowners told deputies a laptop was stolen from the same house about a week earlier.

“I think it's pretty bold around here,” Orange Park resident Terry said. “There's four cops that live in this two-block area. That's just really gutsy. They have to be from around here.”

A wallet, jewelry and other items were also taken from a parked car on the side of Bogerville Hideout Bar on Highway 17 south of Green Cove Springs, deputies said.

Also, within the last two weeks, a flag pole was stolen from a residence in the Grove Park Drive area of Orange Park, a license plate was stolen from a parked vehicle at the Orange Park Mall, and an unattended wallet was taken from Chili’s near the Orange Park Mall.

So far there's no description of any suspects. Deputies continue to tell people in Clay County about their “Like It, Lock It” campaign.

“We tell people repeatedly, if you like your things, lock it up,” Twisdale said. “It's a Sheriff's Office crime prevention theme.”

Deputies said the days of people feeling comfortable leaving their homes and cars unlocked should be over.

Meanwhile, some residents said if someone breaks into an empty home, there's no telling what could happen.

“They're likely to get shot around here,” Terry said.

People are also being told to make sure they don't keep their garage door openers in unlocked cars.

The spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office said that despite the recent burglaries, overall property crimes in Clay County are down, comparing the first six months of this year to the first six months of last year.

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