Five homes in Emerald Harbor have been broken into since Dec. 12, according to Longboat Key police reports.
And the strangest things are being stolen from the homes in the 5800 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive.
In at least three of the burglaries, only the security alarm keypads were stolen from the interior walls of the
homes. Nothing else except minor valuables and some guns have been swiped from one of the homes. A large-screen television was stolen from a home in Lands End on Dec. 16.
Police Chief Al Hogle said his department has increased patrol in the neighborhood and surrounding area to combat the burglaries.
“It’s an increase in crime we’re not happy about,” said Hogle, who said he has no idea why burglars would be taking alarm keypads.
Hogle said the city of Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island also has experienced an increase in burglaries and alarm keypad thefts.
“We think it could possibly be a gang-initiation type of burglary,” Hogle said.
Whatever type of burglaries they are, the 81 homeowners of Emerald Harbor are not happy. Emerald Harbor resident Bob Craft is forming a neighborhood watch at Emerald Harbor’s Feb. 1 homeowner meeting to help control the crime wave with the assistance of Longboat Key Deputy Police Chief Martin Sharkey.
Craft believes the burglars are coming into the neighborhood, in part, via boats from the neighborhood’s bayfront canal.
“Forming a neighborhood watch is so easy to do, and it makes us all more aware of our neighbors and our surroundings,” said Craft, who is also urging the police department to install cameras on the island’s north and south bridges so pictures of potential criminals can be taken to help capture suspects.
The burglaries, Emerald Harbor resident Weldon Frost said, also has spurred many homeowners to increase security in their homes.
“I am one of the homeowners that’s getting ready to purchase an alarm system,” Frost said.
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- Maybe the Chief Hogle and Deputy Chief Sharkey should think of putting the marine patrol unit to better use? There is a boat that is used to patrol around the island for reasons other than just fishery inspections and boating violations correct? Maybe if they put this unit to good use and had it patrol around the island past the hours of 3:30 in the afternoon, it could be effective in deterring crime if they suspect the perpetrators could be reaching the homes by boat.
It may also be useful for Chief Hogle to consider having a more proactive police department rather than such a reactive department. If there is a "crime wave" on Longboat Key, then the criminals know that the island it not only lax in it's street patrol efforts, but they are also well aware that there is absolutely no patrol on the water after certain hours as well. No offense, but when almost your entire department is made up of "retirees", do you really think they are interested in proactively protecting Longboat Key or just earning an extra paycheck?
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