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East County Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018 7 months ago

Coffee serves as a Lakewood Ranch wake-up call

Coffee with a cop event in Lakewood Ranch reminds residents to keep guard up.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

When Fred Maillet and Jane Jule heard about a burglary in their neighborhood, they were shocked.

“We’ve lived in Braden Woods since 1985,” Jule said. “We had never heard about any crime in the area. We heard a break-in happened at 1:30 p.m., on a Tuesday. For so many years we were so safe.”

The couple worries that with the new Johnson Preserve at Braden River opened by the Manatee County, it might attract a different crowd.

“We think there may be people who live back there,” Jule said. “It’s a county-owned preserve, so we don’t know.”

To find some answers and to get some tips on how to be safe, Maillet and Jule attended Coffee with a Cop on Oct. 3 at the Starbucks at Lakewood Ranch Main Street to chat with members of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department.

“There are three main concerns all over Manatee County, including in Lakewood Ranch,” said Capt. Robert Mealy, supervisor of the department’s Patrol District 3, which encompasses most of what is east of Interstate 75 in Manatee County. “There’s vehicular burglary, domestic violence and traffic issues.”

Mealy said while the issues with traffic and speeding through neighborhoods does concern the patrol deputies, it is mostly handled through the traffic response units.

Car burglaries are a more easily preventable problem.

“A lot of times, car thieves don’t want to bust a window to break into your car, they’ll just check to see if the door is unlocked,” Mealy said while sipping his coffee. “If you don’t leave jewelry or debit cards or purses on the front seat, a lot of times the bad guys will just give up and try another car.”

Mealy said domestic cases involve “powder keg” issues.

“You never know what’s going to happen in a domestic case,” he said. “There’s no way to say how to prevent it.”

With the new satellite station opening in Lakewood Ranch at 14544 Arbor Green Trail, just east of Lorraine Corners shopping plaza, Mealy said response times in that area will drop.

The Country Club’s Jane Nicholl said she is satisfied with the Sheriff’s Office response times.

“There was a (teenage) girl who rang my doorbell at 2 a.m. the other night and was wandering around the neighborhood. The deputies were out in our neighborhood very quickly, and they followed up afterward to let me know that she had been returned home safely.”

Mealy noted gated communities are not immune to crime.

“I don’t want to say that the gates give a false sense of security, but you still need to lock your cars, lock your houses and close the garage,” Mealy said. “If you see something suspicious, call us, and we’ll check it out.”

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