NewsLocal NewsLee County


Worried about break-ins? A former inmate talks about what she looked for

While LCSO burglary crime data is flat, we take a look at what a former thief would target
Posted at 9:52 PM, Jan 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-22 21:52:50-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — In Lee County between the start of 2022 and the recent end of 2023, home burglaries dropped and car burglaries rose slightly.

Jennifer Gomez spent 10 years in a Florida prison for burglarizing homes. Now she says she's working to educate people on how to prevent these crimes for happening to them.

"People, especially with nicer homes... they love to leave their windows open, and show of the aesthetic in their house. Don't do that because now people know where the kitchen is versus the master bedroom," she said.

Gomez says pre-planning is one way thieves work ahead to take advantage of others. Specifically, she says she used to look for 'beware of dog' signs, however they were not a deterrent.

"By giving people these indicators of what's inside your house, you let them know what to be prepared for. You might have a dog and you might think your dog is going to protect your home, but if I'm coming in there and I know if I bring a steak your dog is my friend, everything's okay," Gomez said.

LCSO shared burglary data with FOX 4, showing 482 home burglaries in 2023 with 48 more the year before and 1,017 car burglaries with 16 fewer the year before.

"Simple steps like locking your car and hiding valuables can make a huge impact on reducing burglaries," Sheriff Carmine Marceno said, "Let thieves know that Lee County is not a place to try and steal."

Gomez says, get a video doorbell and a system that alarms at the frequency of breaking glass. Also, making it sound like you're home can help.

"If I heard a radio, Alexa, something... That's definitely something that makes me feel like somebody is there," she said, as sharing face-to-face encounters with home-owners are what burglars work to avoid.

The last tip, she says, is for safety.

"Don't try to be the good samaritan because I was in prison with so many countless women who were doing something so trivial, could even be considered a teen prank, and because someone came out and tried to stop them... someone would end up getting seriously hurt, or getting killed," she said.