Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office District 8 Capt. Rolando Silva emphasized at the Wellington Village Council meeting on Tuesday, June 12 the importance of residents routinely locking their car and house doors.
Since Silva presented the annual PBSO report to the council on April 24, his agency conducted and concluded Operation Open Doors, in which they were aiming to crack down on vehicle break-ins and spread the message to residents to lock all of their doors at night, especially their car doors.
“Open Doors has been concluded, but we are still targeting the vehicle burglary issue,” Silva said. “The underlying issue continues to be unlocked car doors.”
Silva, in April, stated that in the past year there was a total of 420 reported burglaries, 23 reported robberies and 113 reported stolen vehicles.
Since the operation, though, results have not improved as much as the PBSO hoped.
“Last week, alone, we had a high week of burglaries in a couple of neighborhoods — over 16 burglaries — and 100 percent of them were [as a result of] unlocked doors. It’s making it way too easy,” Silva said.
Silva explained that most of these burglaries are taking place during the early hours of the morning — at around 3 or 4 a.m. — during which time neighborhoods are quiet and empty, allowing burglars to go around from car to car, checking to see which ones are unlocked.
“They go through about a dozen cars before they get scared off or they feel they have [stolen] enough stuff,” Silva said.
Silva explained that as a result of the footage from many homeowners’ outside video cameras, they are able to tell that the burglars are aware that they are being recorded.
“The suspects, in the last set of cases, were wearing hoodies and gloves, so they know that homeowners have video cameras, but that’s not keeping them too much from doing it,” Silva said.
Because many of the burglaries also take place in some of Wellington’s gated communities, there are concerns of security. Silva confirmed that there are patrol cars regularly making rounds around Wellington neighborhoods, but continued to emphasize the importance of residents doing their part and keeping all doors locked and secured.
Silva has been working with village officials to figure out more ways to spread the message throughout the community.
“The village manager and I met last week [to figure out] how to push out that message, to get our residents to be less complacent,” Silva said.
Silva added that the PBSO is changing routes and trying a new operation, of which he is unable to give details publicly.
“It’s difficult, but at the end of the day, we need our residents to really take the time to lock their doors,” Silva said. “The crime rate in Wellington would literally be next to nothing if we didn’t have this issue.”