Orange County taskforce targets neighborhood thieves

Commissioner Ted Edwards pushes for property crime decrease

By Lisa Bell - Anchor

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - There's a new push to protect Orange County homes from burglars.

Orange County Commissioner Ted Edwards asked the county to form a task force on Tuesday with representatives from the sheriff's office, judges, the jail and cities. Instead, the Orange County Commission decided to forward this issue to the county's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which is already comprised of representatives from those entities, to study the growing number of property crimes in the county.

"Things are happening now that weren't happening a few years ago," said Edwards.
Edwards knows that first-hand. His own Winter Park home was targeted by thieves.
In 2011, thieves in Orange County stole over $110.5 million worth of property, but only $32.6 million was recovered.

Edwards also wants to know why burglaries are happening in Orange County at a much higher rate compared to the rest of the state.

"Where the rest of the state was flat or crime went down, we had an over five percent increase in burglaries and I want to find out why."

Local 6 has been following several recent break-ins in the College Park area. One victim, who did not want to be identified, agrees the county needs to take action.

"I know there's a limited budget right now, but it's kind of scary when you feel like somebody's just going to come right through your front door in the middle of the day," said the College Park crime victim.

In 2011, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, reports there were 14,504 burglaries in Orange County, while there were 170,223 burglaries statewide. In other words, one out of every 12 burglaries in Florida, happened in Orange County.

Edwards notes another statistic: the Orange County jail population is down 15 percent from a few years ago.

"Crime is due to a number of factors and they're very complex," said Edwards. "You have the homeless, you have drug addicts, you have a bad economy and these are problems that are very hard to fix."

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