The last several days, the sheriff’s office has put out a sign on Ambleside Boulevard that leads in through the main gate of the South Fork development that reads: “Report Suspicious Activity.” Since that sign has never appeared in our neck of the woods before, my reporter’s mind went immediately to work.
I checked around and found a couple of my neighbors in Summerfield (which is next to South Fork) have installed outdoor cameras on their homes. Many of us are already hooked to burglar alarm systems.
Yesterday my mailbox was crushed by what looks like a blunt object — like a baseball bat or metal pipe. Perhaps the vandals don’t realize messing with a mailbox is a federal crime, even when it’s just vandalism. Why, people aren’t even allowed to put solicitations in a mailbox. Mail is still one of the systems that is federally regulated.
I reached out to Captain Steve Lannikitis at Hillsborough County’s District 4 station in Ruskin that covers South County.
“With shootings and other violent crimes, vandalism is pretty far down on what we can cover,” he explained, but he asked that the community continue to watch for, and report events.
“Many of the burglaries are in cars that are found unlocked,” he added.
While South Riverview may be experiencing some random acts of vandalism, I did find out that violent crime in Hillsborough County is down 20 percent over last year at this time and that the sheriff’s office attempt to redefine joint participation between patrol officers and the community through the installation of small local offices in each community is working.
“Since the implementation of the community stations, we have a lot more eyes and ears on things, and that’s keeping major crime down,” Lannikitis said.
According to its website, the sheriff’s office gets approximately two million calls a year and travels about 27 million miles in its 1,800 vehicles. People are encouraged to report crimes, violent and minor, so officers can keep an eye on areas of specific concern.
Gang-related activity (which does not seem to be a problem here in South Riverview) is especially important to report. The sheriff’s office says to watch for groups wearing similar outfits and sporting identical tattoos and other markings, as these may relate to gang membership. People noticing anything that could be gang related are asked to call 877-GANGOUT. Other calls may be made through the sheriff’s office main line 813-247-8000, or in any emergency, 9-1-1.
Meanwhile, Neighborhood Watches are proving to be the best bet to keep crime from coming into an area.
“Where criminals see that people are staying aware, they usually stay away,” Lannikitis said.
In last week’s column I published a phone number and email address for American Addiction Center, which is taking applications for jobs. That information was incorrect. To submit a job application, visit careers.americanaddictioncenters.org and apply online.