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Pinecrest police review hundreds of crime reports that may have been misclassified

Residents call for local leaders to take more action against crime in area

The Pinecrest Police Department is reviewing hundreds of crime reports that may have been misclassified, as residents demand that local government do more about crime in the area.
The Pinecrest Police Department is reviewing hundreds of crime reports that may have been misclassified, as residents demand that local government do more about crime in the area.

PINECREST, Fla. – The Pinecrest Police Department is reviewing hundreds of crime reports that may have been misclassified, as residents demand that local government do more about crime in the area.

Victims of home burglaries packed village hall Tuesday to voice their concerns.

Many lashed out at local leaders for downplaying concerns and insinuating that crime isn't as prevalent as it appears to be at the moment.

"I want to have none (burglaries)," said one resident. "I want to have zero. You're not the bosses. You represent us. We're the bosses." 

Burglary victim after burglary victim stepped up to the podium to tell their story.

Many said they have alarms or guard dogs, some have even hired private security to patrol their street, but in many cases the extra measures still don't keep criminals from breaking in. 

"We've been broken into twice in 90 days," said one resident.

"I have cameras, which they totally ignored. I have alarms, which they totally ignored," said another resident. 

Local 10 News has been covering a rash of commercial and residential burglaries in the area in recent months.

The mayor and police chief said crime has been relatively steady over the years and that burglaries are down in 2015.

Victims insist that the numbers are misleading. 

Local 10 News went through hundreds of police reports classified as vandalisms in the village of Pinecrest. 

Many document doors pried open and windows smashed. In several incidents, the homeowners are still home when the burglaries happened. 

A village spokeswoman released the following statement regarding the findings:

"It has come to the attention of Police Chief Samuel Ceballos, Jr. that attempted residential burglaries may have been incorrectly classified by police officers as an act of vandalism. The Chief has directed a thorough review to determine the validity of the allegations. In addition, the Administrative Division Lieutenant has been directed to verify all residential crime reports, thereby ensuring their accuracy and precluding any future reporting errors. Police Chief Ceballos, who has made transparency a hallmark of his administration, took these steps to ensure the accuracy of police reporting."

As the review continues and the numbers are adjusted, residents are demanding village council members and the mayor better equip and fund officers in the community to protect them.

The council is in the middle of bargaining with police representatives. Some residents said there are issues behind the scenes. 

To help deal with crime, village officials voted to try a different approach to fighting crime in the area.

"The Village Council took decisive action at Tuesday's budget hearing in addressing crime issues in the Village," said a village spokeswoman. "The Village Council approved three measures to increase public safety for Pinecrest residents.  It appropriated $495,000 for a License Plate Reader System which would place a camera at the 37 entryways to the Village.  The system is designed to send alerts to police dispatch in real-time. The Village Council also approved the addition of five new police officer positions and approved the use of forfeiture funds to establish a K-9 unit program. These combined public safety measures augment the police department's ability to protect residents and property. It is the goal of this administration to meet the concerns of residents with innovative ideas that have proven results."

Watch Local 10 News and check back on Local10.com for updates on this developing story.

Follow Andrew Perez on Twitter @PerezLocal10

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