GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- A concerned community is getting cops on their side.
The homeowners association in one Green Cove Springs neighborhood is hiring off duty deputies to patrol. And neighbors say - it's needed after a recent rash in vandalism. Burned and broken into. Neighbors in the Arava subdivision are fed up.
"I've become kind of the neighborhood watch person and there's just a lot of kids starting to get older, high school now and I guess a couple of them think they're Al Capone," said homeowner Lowell Passons.
He tells Action News for the past several months, the vandalism is getting worse. Monday night, a mailbox was set on fire. Passons says the culprits are kids- and he's caught them in the act swiping his stuff.
"I caught two teenagers trying to sneak under my garage door on probably about a half a dozen occasions they've come in and stole beer out of the fridge and took cigarettes."
He says there has also been a string of car break-ins. The Clay County Sheriff's Office tells Action News just Friday they arrested a juvenile who led them to more.
"I don't think they give it that much thought until they're caught," Lt. Kenneth Stivers said of the teens.
Lt. Stivers says off duty officers have been patrolling this community on the weekends -- and it's all set up by the HOA. They've also met with these homeowners offering advice.
"Closing your garage doors, keeping your doors locked, having your surroundings well lit, communicating with your neighbors, that's all part of the homeowners responsibility to ensure they're not a victim of crime," he said.
Passons just hope these kids learn their lesson sooner than later. Because he says these neighbors aren't afraid to protect what's theirs.
"They don't realize most of the people in this neighborhood are armed and if they get caught on the property I think they're going to have a problem," said Passons.
The Sheriffs Office says they regularly visit neighborhoods looking for open doors windows. And they'll leave owners this door tag -- urging them if they "like it, lock it".
They have plenty more tips for homeowners on their website www.claysheriff.com