Bikes stop break-ins, Get Results on Crime

Longwood police patrolling SunRail Station

When the train pulls into the Longwood SunRail station, Bike Officer Kevin Tuck is there.

Tuck, and one other bike officer, routinely patrol the SunRail station, the surrounding parking lots and parking garages, nearby businesses and apartment buildings, and even an assisted living facility.

Tuck even rides the train to give passengers peace of mind.

"There are females that get off the train, they say thank you," said Tuck. "They feel safer when they go to their vehicle in the parking garage."

Cpl. Ryan Short, who leads the Sunrail bike officer initiative, said staffing the SunRail station is necessary not just to prevent crime, but also with the community on edge after recent events.

"This helps," said Longwood Police Cpl. Ryan Short. "Just the police presence alone helps, having them speaking to people and communicating, it's huge."

Tuck also spends his day pulling on car door handles looking for unlocked cars. Thieves know cars parked in a SunRail lot are unattended often for 8 hours a day and will "car-hop" - check door handle after door handle to find an easy target.

Tuck said if he finds an unlocked car, he'll leave a reminder note.

The Flagler County Sheriff's Office said last week some 40 cars were broken into. Overnight Monday in Orange County, 22 car windows were smashed and valuables were taken at 2 hotels.

Tuck said since he's been on his bike, there have been no car burglaries in the SunRail parking lots, parking garage, and surrounding parking spaces.

"We've had 0," said Tuck. "Most officers respond to a call. We at Longwood don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive."

Tuck said he recently got a call for a suspicious man lingering in one of the parking lots. He was there within seconds.

"He was looking into windows, checking the bicycle rack," said Tuck. "I let him know we're here 24/7 and you cannot get away with a crime here in the City of Longwood."

Tuck's role is also to watch for drivers who stop on the tracks. In 2014, a man was killed at the Longwood railroad crossing when police said he drove around the gates and tried to beat the train.

The two bike officers are paid for with a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Tuck said no other law enforcement agency dedicates bike officers exclusively to a Sunrail station.

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