Gulfport Police Department
Media Release

Chief of Police                Public Information Officer
Robert A. Vincent                 Thomas Woodman
  (727)893-1049                        (727)893-1051
Efforts to Combat Rise in Property Crime

Gulfport, FL--In the first six months of 2013, there were 48 bicycle thefts and 27 vehicle burglaries reported. During the same time period for 2014, those numbers increased to 82 and 74, respectively. To combat this significant increase in property crimes, police are combining some traditional tactics with new and high tech strategies.

Patrol officers have been asked to pay close attention to bicycle riders, and they will be stopping those who are violation of statutory bicycle regulations. During these encounters, officers will check bicycle serial numbers against a database of known stolen property. We will also be increasing neighborhood foot patrols, and when officers find car windows open or bicycles left unsecured, they will be knocking on doors and asking residents to help by securing their property. While this is taking place, detectives will be identifying known thieves and burglars, and they will be working with their colleagues in St. Petersburg to conduct surveillance with the hope of catching some of the criminals in the act.

The police department has also acquired new technology that will allow us to set up decoy operations using “bait bikes” that we can electronically track. An embedded tracking device unknown to the potential thief will send a text message alert to an investigator when the bike is moved. At that point, the investigator can launch a mobile app that will allow him to her to track the movement of the bicycle. This is similar to a program recently put into operation in San Francisco, and reports indicate it has been very successful there.

In the meantime, we ask residents to please use common sense in securing their property. Lock cars, and park them in your driveway whenever possible. Vehicles parked on the street are much more likely to be burglarized. Always park in well-lit areas, and do not leave valuables (GPS devices are very common targets) in plain view. Store bicycles inside a garage or shed, and close and lock the door when not in use. Most stolen bicycles are taken from porches or open garages.

Questions, comments, or tips should be directed to Lt. Joshua Stone, who oversees the police department’s crime prevention efforts. He can be reached at jstone@mygulfport.us or at 893-1111.