Titusville police's 'Midnight Team' stops car break-ins, thefts

Officers going to car dealerships, parks, golf courses, neighborhoods

TITUSVILLE, Fla. – Titusville police Officer Jorge Cabranes works 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

He's part of the "Midnight Team."

Titusville detectives came up with the idea to dedicate a squad of detectives and officers solely to stopping crime, rather than handling calls or taking reports. Overnight. Every night.

"If we're sitting stagnant in a parking lot and typing reports then crime's going to happen," Cabranes said. "If you're mobile and cutting crime off, results happen, you catch them. If you catch the right person you just solved 15 to 20 burglaries that were about to happen."

Chief John Lau said the city was seeing a spike in car break-ins and thefts from driveways, streets and car dealerships.

Most of the crimes were happening overnight.

So detectives suggested shifting some of their schedules to spend the nighttime hours patrolling car dealerships, neighborhoods, parks, even golf courses - any place where juveniles hang out.

 "So they are not handling calls for service, they are 100 percent a proactive group," Lau said. "We have detectives in this group, we're a self-contained group that is literally just solving crime."

Recently, Cabranes was recognized as Officer of the Month for running down a suspected car thief who taunted him by saying he was a cross-country runner in high school.

When Cabranes caught up and made the arrest, he discovered the suspect was connected to seven car break-ins.

"We show face," Cabranes said. "We put ourselves out there. The public sees us and the criminals see us." 

Cabranes said overnight patrols around areas popular with juveniles either scare off potential crime or catches them in the act.

"When I first started, it (juvenile crime) was everywhere," Cabranes said. "Every night I could come out and find something."

Lau said since Titusville added the Midnight Team, car break-ins are down 32 percent and car thefts are down 12 percent compared to the same time last year.

 "We're in areas where cars aren't being stolen anymore and where kids used to occupy no longer occupy," Lau said. 

Lau said there has been no major crime in Titusville over the past four months that hasn't been solved.

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