Sheriff Michelle Cook announced Friday the reopening of a Clay County Sheriff’s Office substation in Keystone Heights. The announcement comes after having deputies on bikes stationed in the area throughout the summer.
The initiative to include more surveillance of the Keystone Heights area began in late May. Since assigning additional resources to the area, deputies have made over 100 traffic stops, over 20 arrests including 10 felonies and over 175 business and citizen contacts, the sheriff reported via a Facebook Live video.
“We are going to continue these efforts at least until the end of the summer,” Cook said. “Myself and CCSO are committed to Keystone Heights.
The substation will tentatively operate out of the Keystone Heights City Hall building, 555 S. Lawrence Blvd. Clay County District 4 Commissioner Betsy Condon stood beside Cook as she made the announcement.
“We encourage all Keystone residents to make relationships with the deputies and encourage your children to do the same,” Condon said.
Condon also urged citizens to watch their speed and avoid texting while driving so that Clay County deputies can focus on investigating crimes, rather than being held up with traffic incidents.
The decision to open the Keystone substation came after Cook addressed a slew of auto burglaries in the area. Deputies have identified two juveniles, ages 14 and 16, who have confessed to several of the burglaries, according to the sheriff’s office.
The juveniles were caught on Thursday, July 27, when deputies observed them in the area where burglaries were occurring. One was armed with a gun in his waistband and it was later determined the gun was an item stolen from one of the vehicle burglaries, Cook said.
The juveniles were interviewed and confessed. They are currently facing 11 counts of burglarized auto, 10 counts of armed auto burglary and two counts of grand theft. A total of seven auto burglary cases have been cleared so far with 23 individual victims, Cook said.
It is possible they may be charged with additional crimes in the area.
Deputies are currently looking for a third juvenile suspect assumed to be related to auto crimes in the Keystone area. It is unknown whether this juvenile suspect is related to the above suspect, or operated individually.
Cook held up a photo of the suspect, which will later be posted to the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, and urged residents to call in with information on the suspect.
“Somebody in Keystone knows who this is and I need you to call us immediately at 904-264-6512, or you can send us a SaferWatch tip and do so anonymously,” she said.
To download the SaferWatch app, click here.
To be taken to the Sheriff’s Office webpage with contact information, including the non-emergency line, click here.
Cook and commissioner Condon both reminded citizens that in order for deputies to legally investigate crimes, they must have a report to do so. Facebook comments and messages are not considered a report and, therefore, cannot be investigated without a SaferWatch tip or phone call to the Sheriff’s Office.