Larry Gutridge, the crime prevention specialist who works out of the East District of the Lee County Sheriff's Office on Homestead Rd. in Lehigh Acres says crime in Lehigh has decreased dramatically over the period between Feb. 6 to March 6, when compared to the previous 30 days, and he says it is due to the good work done by Capt. Todd Garrison, commander of the substation, and his deputies.
"The decrease is significant," Gutridge said.
Gutridge reported that in that 30-day period, 95 crimes (burglaries, thefts and robberies) took place and that number represents a decrease of 34 over the previous 30 days.
Gutridge said there was a decrease in all areas, one less business burglaries, 14 less residential burglaries, 13 less of car burglaries, five less of car thefts, one less robbery. In the previous 30 days, there have been 55 residential burglaries, but Gutridge said the latest number in that category was 14 less. Also, there had been two business burglaries, 55 residential burglaries, 23 car burglaries, 10 car thefts, and five robberies.
He said the one main area for crime is in the downtown area of Lehigh, centered around the intersection of Homestead Rd., Lee and Beth Stacey boulevards, extending down Homestead to Alabama roads and down Beth Stacey Blvd. to 23rd St. He said the rest of the criminal activity was scattered all throughout Lehigh.
However, Gutridge noted that the perennial hot spot in the southwest corner remains "very active."
"The intensity of crime in the Lower Leonard Blvd. area has come down some, as has the area just to the east of the Westminster neighborhood, bordered by Westminster and Gunnery Rd. and Leonard and Lee boulevards," Gutridge said.
He noted that the chosen means of breaking into homes was still the breaking of windows and the prying of sliders, and occasionally a front door will be the target.
He said installing protective film to the glass surfaces and adding glass break sensors to alarm systems would be a major deterrent.
Gutridge is available to speak about crime prevention in the Lehigh area to clubs and organizations. He is also available to help form neighborhood watches in Lehigh. To contact him for a presentation, call him at 239-477-1802. You can also email Gutridge at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a member of the Community Council of Lehigh Acres, he reports crime activity and information about community watch groups along with others from the Sheriff's Office who may be in attendance.
Gutridge said that residents should report all suspicious activity.
"If you see something that 'just doesn't look right' then it may be. Call 477-1000 and ask for a deputy to come and check it out," Gutridge said.
Sheriff Mike Scott in the past has said that residents should not be afraid to call for help for the same reason that if you see something suspicious, call the Sheriff's Office, he has said many times.
"Since our last meeting the members of the community, under the organizational umbrella of the Community Watch Coordinators played the deputies representing the East District. This year the deputies won a close game by a decisive margin in the last two innings. It was great fun and both groups are looking forward to next year's meeting," he said.