Items left in an unlocked car gives thieves the opportunity to steal and to return for more later. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office District IV Detective James Howell and HCSO Bloomingdale Community Substation Master Deputy Curtis A. Warren have arrested several individuals in Bloomingdale and  FishHawk Ranch in connection with vehicle burglaries. 

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Detective James Howell, District IV Latent Investigations section, and HCSO  Bloomingdale Community Substation Master Deputy Curtis A. Warren have been able to makes a number of arrests, bringing a recent string of car burglaries in the Bloomingdale and FishHawk Ranch communities to a halt; at least for now.

Howell and Warren’s efforts resulted in the arrest of individuals in three different—now commonly known as ‘car hopping’ incidents in as many months.

According to Howell the first incident occurred in December then in January as well as early February, with the last arrest of 22-year-old Imanuel Samah Wallace of Riverview who is now charged with five counts of burglary in the Kite Glen community in FishHawk Ranch.

Howell and Warren also arrested Joseph Jossie, 19 and Demetri Sampson, 20,  in connection with a vehicle burglaries incident in December in Bloomingdale East near Crooked Stick off Natures’ Way as well as Koby Colding, 22, and Jessie Coburn 21, also in connection with vehicle burglaries in the Heron Glen, Bridgewater and Vireo Ridge communities in FishHawk Ranch.

“This is an ongoing issue,” Howell said, and explained that the burglars use the system known as “car hopping” which involves going through area neighborhoods and simply checking vehicles by pulling door handles until they find one that is open.

“In such a manner the burglars can check 30 to 50 vehicles in a very short time,” Howell said. “They then quickly go through the vehicle and take anything of value from cash, GPSs, electronics, digital cameras, I-pods, MP3 Players, expensive sunglasses, laptops, weapons and whatever else of value that is left insecure. 

The Bloomingdale East incident arrest came as the result of the vigilance on the part of  area residents as the burglars were arrested after HCSO Dispatch received a call regarding suspicious activity in the area.

Numerous items belonging to the vehicle owners were recovered.

“It is all about the quantity,” Howell said. “With this genre of crime it is amazing how much damage can be done in just a short period of time, not to mention the amount of work it adds to the deputies and detectives.”

Warren emphasized that, of course, thieves don’t just focus on cars noting that the most recent burglary trend in the Bloomingdale East area is bicycles being stolen from open garage doors. 

To prevent becoming a burglary victim, residents are encouraged to close their garage door when away from home and also when away from the garage for any length of time. 

Adding to the problem is thieves following UPS trucks and then stealing the packages after they are dropped off. 
To prevent this, residents are encouraged to track closely the delivery of their package and either make special arrangements with UPS to only have the package left when someone signs for the package or make other arrangements with a neighbor to get the package.

“The only way to help those of us in the Sheriff’s Office  reduce the number of burglaries in our area is for all residents to do their part in preventing crimes by taking personal responsibility for properly securing their homes, vehicles and personal property,” Howell said. “This starts with locking up your homes and vehicles, taking valuable items out of your cars and closing your garage doors. Otherwise, you’re just inviting a crime to take place.  It only takes these few seconds for a crime to take place.”

If residents notice any suspicious activity or a crime being committed, they are advised to get all the information possible such as descriptions of individuals, descriptions of vehicles and license numbers and immediately call the Sheriff’s Dispatch at 247-8200.

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