Commissioner's Corner: Tips to keep crime away

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Many District 5 constituents have been reporting that crime, particularly property crime, is on the rise in their communities. As a victim of a home burglary myself, I know firsthand the sense of loss and invasion these crimes inflict on families and individuals, and am committed to helping to reduce the occurrences of these crimes.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations’ Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program presents a bleak outlook on Orange County’s property crime problem. The UCR program was founded in 1930 to give policymakers and the general public a better understanding of trends in criminal justice through the collection of nationwide crime statistics. The UCR program breaks property crimes into three categories: burglary, larceny, and auto theft. Although the data shows that property crimes are on the decline nationally, Orange County’s property crimes rates have risen since 2010. Residents reported 13,783 burglaries, 31,055 larcenies, and 3,754 auto thefts that year to state and local law enforcement agencies within the county. In 2012, 14,034 burglaries, 32,034 larcenies, and 4,013 auto thefts were reported, a 3 percent increase in total property crime from 2010. Although an adjustment for the increase in Orange County’s population since 2010 may reduce the increase upon individual residents, property crime impacts an entire family and the sense of safety in our neighborhoods.

You can help deter criminals from committing property crime offenses in your neighborhood. You can take a few steps to significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Keep your garage door or storage shed closed and locked, and secure tools and equipment such as ladders that criminals could use to gain access to your home. You would be surprised the number of crimes that could be prevented if residents simply closed their garage doors and sheds. Keep your yard well maintained – a well maintained yard provides fewer hiding places for criminals. Ensure that trees and shrubbery do not obscure doors and windows or provide access to the second story of your home. Be sure your property is well lit. Consider installing automatic timers or motion sensors that activate exterior lights. Join your local neighborhood watch group. If one does not exist, ask your local police department or the sheriff’s department to help you start one. If you live in an apartment or condo complex, check the community on a regular basis for problems such as burned-out light bulbs, dark corridors, uncollected trash or broken locks on mailboxes and doors. Report any problems to the complex manager or condo owners association as soon as possible. Park your car in a lit, well-traveled area. Be sure to lock your car even if you plan on returning in a few minutes to prevent giving criminals easy access to your belongings. Vigilance can deter criminals and make the community safer for everyone.

I will continue to work with Sheriff Jerry Demings and other local law enforcement officials to reduce the impact of property crimes in our communities. Nothing is more important than ensuring your safety and the security of your home and property. If you would like additional information on starting a neighborhood watch program or any other county issue, please feel free to contact me or my staff, Edgar Robinson and Lynette Rummel. We can be reached at 407-836-7350 or by email at In closing, close your garage door, lock your car doors, and be safe!