Mini season will be here before we know it

Adam Linhardt, Public Information Officer for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM yesterday morning to talk about what’s been going on in the county.

Lobster mini season will be held on July 26 and 27.

Linhardt said, “For folks who are a little bit newer to Monroe County, you need to prepare or at least be aware of what goes on during the mini season, at least on the roads. In terms of the inbound traffic leading up to this event, just expect it to be heavy.”

The thing with mini season that adds to traffic congestion is a lot of people are trailing boats.

Linhardt said, “We’re talking about not just the roads, we’re talking about boat ramps, on and off ramps, near those boat ramps, near the RV parks, all those areas.”

Traffic can be heavy on the days before the mini season begins – even the weekend before.

Linhardt said, “A lot of folks take that week off. So from our perspective, this is almost a week event. So to be mindful of that Friday, Saturday leading up to the event. And then certainly the Thursday thereafter, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, people going out bound on US 1. During the actual two day season, we’re talking about all the areas near the boat ramps are going to be really, really heavy. Try to think of it as a week event as a motorist and just prepare yourself for extra time, delays. Hopefully we don’t have too many crashes or things of that nature that can really compound that issue even further. But really if everybody’s just patient, they give themselves extra time and do care, we’ll get through the mini season as we do every year.”

Mini season can also bring additional crime, like theft from boats and marine equipment.

Lindhardt said, “The summer is obviously the time of year when we typically see an increase and fishing rods being stolen, dive gear being stolen, very expensive GPS units getting ripped off of vessels that are unattended, to be honest, and very valuable equipment that’s just left out on vessels. Mini season, crank it up even another notch. These are crimes of opportunity. These people, thieves, criminals, they’ll walk up if there’s a boat that’s unattended and nobody’s around and all this stuff’s laying there to be taken, they’ll snatch it up. They’ll find the easiest victim that they can. And unfortunately, during mini season, they can have a target rich environment, so to speak.”

People get excited about this time of year and can forget to lock up valuable equipment, but it’s important to remain diligent.

Linhardt said, “Put your stuff away, do everything you can to make it hard on a thief or would be a criminal in your area. That involves a lot of common sense. But mainly just taking all those steps that you would take to secure your valuables as you would anywhere else. Hopefully we won’t have to file too many reports.”

While some folks come to the Keys to get some lobster, others will come down because they know they might be able to grab some items which they could make money on.

Linhardt said, “Everybody just needs to use common sense. Stow the things that are valuable to you that somebody could easily walk away with.”

National Night Out is coming up on August 1.

Linhardt said, “It’s a national event that we take part in. I say we I mean Sheriff Ramsay, his team, this agency, as well as our partners with Key West Police, FWC, Coast Guard, Highway Patrol and I can go right on down Key Colony Beach Police. I could go down the list, it just goes on and on.”

The event is 5:30 to 7:30 on August 1.

Linhardt said, “Kids love it because we have all the equipment out there, the boats, the tools, the trucks. Fire department will be there, everybody comes down, you can take a look at all these response vessels and equipment, weapons, all kinds of things that all we use and our partners use. So the kids love it. There’s food, it’s always a great time. It gives you a chance to come out and meet the captains, the lieutenants, the commanding officers, in your neck of the woods. We’d love for you to come out, get to know the people who patrol your neighborhood.”

Officers welcome questions on National Night Out.

Linhardt said, “It’s just a great time for folks to put a face on the name. Be comfortable, give us a call. We live in the same community that you do and we want to get to know you. It’s just a great way for the community to come together. Because as the sheriff says, we can’t do this alone, we need to do this together. So from our perspective, this is another great way to facilitate that. But really, it’s all about the community. And it’s for the folks who live here.”

In terms of recent crime, the check fraud continues.

Linhardt said, “These are difficult cases. Unfortunately, I can’t ramble on too much about this case, because it’s an ongoing investigation, and we don’t want to jeopardize what our good detectives are doing, other than to let folks know that this is still very much on our radar. We are making arrests, we picked one up another defendant just a couple of days ago on larceny, fraud and a host of other financial related charges. We’re working with our partners, not just the law enforcement spectrum, but some of our community partners as well on the business side to develop even a broader net. So very, very important to us to make sure that the Keys are not a place where folks who commit these kinds of financial crimes can feel safe. I think the alarm should be going out to those folks in this criminal, sophisticated fraud organization that they are not safe here. I’m always happy to see another person get arrested in that investigation, because financial fraud it affects everybody.”

Resource violations are also not tolerated.

Linhardt said, “Unfortunately, wildlife violations kind of fall into that bracket of this being that time of year. We like to see strong enforcement, reminding folks that, hey, we may not catch everybody, but we’re going to darn sure try to. It’s good to see because again talk about one of those crimes that really does affect everybody. You take enough undersized fish and then what’s going to be left for the next generation? Some of these lobsters and fish are just so small. I don’t think he can get a bite a meat off of what they’re taking. So you have to wonder where folks are at mentally when they’re doing this to begin with. But we want the message to be loud and clear. If you’re doing that in this county or if you come down from the mainland and think that you can get away with that in the Keys, Sheriff Ramsay and his staff here would beg to differ.

The incredible heat is also something everyone should be careful with.

Lindhardt said, “Be safe. Try to stay cool. I know it’s hard, but if you need some help, if you’re worried about somebody give our substation a call that’s nearest your location. We’re here to help. Everybody be safe. Take some due time on the road. Give yourself extra time. Get there, safe and in one piece.”