GPD launches special unit to combat burglaries

In this Sept. 24, 2012 file photo, officers work at a base camp set up in Forest Park in Gainesville to organize a search for Christian Aguilar, whose body was later found in Levy County. Gainesville police saw an increase in burglaries while officers were focused on the search.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 5:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 5:13 p.m.

Responding to a recent spike in reported burglaries, the Gainesville Police Department has created a new unit that will have more officers working to prevent and solve the crimes.

The unit, which started Monday, had led to the reorganization of the criminal investigations bureau, said GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias.

Burglaries climbed during the period when police were investigating the case of Christian Aguilar -- the University of Florida student who was reported missing Sept. 20 and whose body was found Oct. 12 in Levy County, Tobias said.

“A lot of our major case detectives were so busy with the Aguilar case that burglaries started increasing because we were pouring so many resources into that case,” Tobias said.

GPD in 2012 had 1,888 reported burglaries, up from 1,063 in 2011. The two months with the most burglaries were September with 201 and October with 189, and the

number of burglaries the first half of 2012 was higher than the same period in 2011.

Tobias said the new unit -- called the special operations unit -- is a consolidation of the duties of the gang intervention unit, the neighborhood street crimes unit and property detectives.

He said officers in the new unit will be “...kind of a patrol detective -- somebody generally in uniform and in a marked car who will do a lot more investigative work.”

The main focus of the 13 officers selected for the new unit is a reduction of property crimes. However, they will also be handling other crimes such as robberies and assaults.

Art Forgey of the Alachua County Sheriff's office said the agency does not have a unit to specifically deal with burglaries or property crimes.

ASO had about 740 reported burglaries for 2012, a decrease from 794 in 2011. Crime statistics compiled by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show that fewer burglaries are reported in unincorporated Alachua County than in Gainesville.

“Our guys working the road will investigate it as much as they possibly can. Then the report goes to detectives, and they do all of the follow up,” Forgey said. “The regular deputies would do the neighborhood canvass and run down any leads they get.”

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