Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office District 8 Capt. Rolando Silva presented his annual report to the Wellington Village Council on Tuesday, April 24.
The report detailed all emergencies that kept PBSO officers busy from Jan. 1 until Dec. 31, 2017. Silva provided statistical information on the types of arrests, crimes and citations taking place in Wellington throughout the year. Most importantly, he stressed Wellington’s standing as a safe and low-crime community.
Although Silva had many good things to say about Wellington’s all-around safety, he had one simple piece of advice that could largely reduce the rate of vehicle burglaries in the community: keep car doors locked.
“We’re making it way too easy,” Silva said. “We’re making Wellington an appealing place for people to come from different areas in or out of the county to come here for one reason — they know that people are leaving their doors unlocked.”
Silva displayed a surveillance video from a residential home in the Palm Beach Polo & Country Club neighborhood, depicting a group of men breaking into a resident’s parked car.
Silva said that people leaving their car doors unlocked is a huge problem throughout Wellington. The number of vehicle burglaries increased from 2016 to 2017. Silva, along with Village Manager Paul Schofield, explained how something as simple as locking car doors could potentially prevent more than half of them from happening.
“The biggest thing that our residents can do to help protect the village and themselves is lock car doors and take their keys out of their cars,” Schofield said. “When you look at residential and car burglaries, they are almost always on unlocked homes and cars.”
Locking car doors, Mayor Anne Gerwig said, goes hand-in-hand with locking house doors. She expressed her concern for Wellington residents who live in gated communities and often fail to lock their house doors.
“I think people have a false sense of security inside a gated community, because they think no one can get in,” Gerwig said. “There is no place safe enough to leave your front door or car doors unlocked.”
In the past year, there were 420 reported burglaries, 23 reported robberies and 113 reported stolen vehicles in Wellington.
Though the number of residential burglaries decreased from 2016 to 2017, the council expressed deep concern over the continual rise in vehicle burglaries.
“Last year, we raised this issue, and we started Operation Vigilance to try to push down the number of car burglaries, and the number has gone up by 40 percent,” Councilman Michael Napoleone said.
Silva stressed the importance of spreading and reinforcing the message to lock all house doors and car doors throughout the village.
“We’re doing everything we can to get the message out, but the change is pretty simple — lock your car doors and keep your keys with you,” Silva said.
Silva noted that Wellington remains well below other county communities when it comes to its crime rate, including the rate of vehicle burglaries.
Along with keeping Wellington safe, Silva expressed the importance of community involvement and presence. Beyond community service, he said that the PBSO values showing the community that they care and are devoted to serving the people of Wellington in order to keep them safe.