HCSO detective James Howell, and Master Deputy Curtis A. Warren have recently arrested five individuals in connection with vehicle burglaries at Starling at FishHawk community.
The Starling at FishHawk Ranch community became the most recent victim of what detectives now call “car hopping” resulting in the arrest of five suspects including three juveniles, none of whom living in or near the area.
The incident has once again highlighted the importance of always locking the doors of vehicles parked on the street.
According to HCSO Bloomingdale Community Substation Master Deputy Curtis A. Warren, the Starling neighborhood was hit during early morning hours in late April and the thieves made off with the usual items that include anything of value from cash, GPS’s, electronics, digital cameras, iPods, MP3 Players, expensive sunglasses and whatever else of value that is left unsecured.
The total theft was estimated at $600 plus the money the group spent during the hour-long shopping spree following the burglary, purchasing gasoline, food and cigarettes using the credit card they stole from one of the vehicles. The spending ended with the card company shutting the account down.
“This just keeps happening,” Warren said. “The burglars use the system as they go through an area in this case the Starling neighborhood and simply check vehicles by pulling door handles until they find one that is open.”
Working together with Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Detective James Howell, the last arrest in the case was made just three weeks following the incident by identifying the suspects through video camera recording, car registration and fingerprint evidence.
“They forgot to buy some orange juice, so they drove back through a local McDonald’s restaurant and used the stolen card, giving us a good view of the vehicle and the driver’s face,” Warren said.
Detectives again emphasized that thieves don’t just focus on cars, residents are encouraged to close their garage doors when away from home.
If residents notice any suspicious activity being committed, they are advised to get all the information possible such as descriptions of individuals and vehicles and license numbers, and immediately call the Sheriff’s Dispatch at 247-8200.
The arrests of the five thieves, all of whom, with the exception of Shalom Lamar Jones, 19, admitted to the crime, is another success by Warren and Howell.