STUART, Fla. — One of the Treasure Coast's newest state lawmakers, Rep. John Snyder, R-Stuart, was elected to the serve in District 82 of the Florida House eight years after his father, Martin County Sheriff William Snyder, held the same title.
Now, one of the first bills John Snyder plans to file will complement the work his father began to better protect Martin County residents from out-of-county criminals.
During William Snyder's first term nearly eight years ago, Martin County was plagued with home burglaries by criminals nicknamed "pillowcase burglars."
The sheriff said the thieves were from other counties such as Broward and Miami-Dade, traveling to Martin County specifically to break into homes and steal valuables often thrown into a pillowcase.
William Snyder became a major voice behind a law that passed to enhance penalties for criminals crossing county lines to break into homes. The law allows for the felony charge to be increased by a degree, giving more power to law enforcement and the state attorney's office to go after harsher penalties.
His son now wants to expand the law to also enhance the penalties against traveling criminals who cross county lines to steal or burglarize vehicles.
John Snyder said home technology such as Ring cameras and home surveillance have deterred home burglaries, but those criminals, he said, have changed their tactics.
"The home burglars have now shifted their attention to stealing high-dollar cars, and breaking into cars ... and we've seen a massive spike," William Snyder said.
While unable to provide specific numbers, the sheriff said the vast majority of car burglaries in Martin County are committed by thieves who do not live in Martin County.
"It's detrimental once they get a hold of the credit cards, and the fraud that they perpetrate, but even more concerning is the firearms that unfortunately, people do leave those in their vehicles," John Snyder said.
For John Snyder, it is fitting to have one of his first bills address the needs of law enforcement. He grew up watching his father's law enforcement career, preceding his father's time as a state representative and sheriff.
Together, both Snyders hope to use their elected positions to make the communities they represent safer, and make each other proud to represent the same family name.