January 29, 2009
Citizens Use E-mail Alerts To Fight Community Crime
In a community as large as FishHawk Ranch, information travels near the speed of light. Proof of that was revealed last month after four teens were attacked and robbed on the trail behind FishHawk Creek Elementary.
Within 24 hours the community’s Intranet was flooded with the details of the assault and resident comments. E-mail messages and warnings travelled from computer to computer.
Less than two weeks later, four teenagers were arrested for the crime, one a certified Latin Kings gang member. None of the youth live in FishHawk Ranch or are students at Newsome High School. Sergeant Howard Wooden with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department’s Gang Enforcement Section said information obtained from witnesses in the community helped solve the crime.
“FishHawk is a good community whose residents took an active and aggressive role in not only investigating the incident but taking an aggressive stand against crime,” remarked Wooden, who spoke to residents at a recent FishHawk ambassador’s meeting.
Ibis Park ambassador Marisa Radley was in attendance and was impressed with the concern by the Sheriff’s Department. “Our community certainly appreciates the quick response by the Sheriff’s Office in arresting the attackers and then sending officers to meet with residents,” said Radley. “I believe they put our fears at rest that this was an isolated incident and not indicative of gang activity in our area.”
Wooden also commented on the rash of property crimes, mostly car break-ins, which he calls crimes of opportunity.
At the meeting, Wooden also offered tips to help deter criminal activity, including keeping lights on when not at home, installing motion detector lights outside your home, keeping garage door openers and other valuables out of automobiles and parking in your garage if possible. He said cars should be locked at all times.
“Walk your neighborhood, watch out for each other’s children and report suspicious activity,” said Wooden. The non-emergency dispatch line is 247-8200. The District IV office number is 247-0455.
“There are bad people out there who do bad things to good people, and you have to be vigilant in your community to combat crime,” said Wooden. “Communication is everything.”
There is also a crime prevention seminar scheduled for Monday, February 2, at 7 p.m. at the Palmetto Club, located at 17004 Dorman Rd. in Lithia.
For more information, visit the sheriff’s office Website at www.hcso.tampa.fl.us or visit www.fishhawkconnect.com.