By Tamas Mondovics
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office K-9 and aviation units have once again played a key role in the successful arrest of several suspects that deputies say were involved in burglarizing one Valrico neighborhood last month.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, on March 16, at 1:23 a.m., deputies responded to the St. Could Oaks subdivision in reference to a call of a suspicious person in the area.
Due to prior vehicle burglaries in the same area, deputies responding to the call quickly set up a perimeter, and utilized aviation and K9 units in attempt to locate the suspects.
HCSO spokesperson Cristal Nunez said that deputies approached on foot and observed three juveniles commit multiple burglaries inside the neighborhood.
“Once the suspects had been observed attempting to exit the subdivision, K9 Max was deployed and came in contact with the suspects as they were continuing towards St. Cloud Ave.” Nunez said.
Deputies said that the juveniles from Valrico, Brandon and Ruskin surrendered to Max, the experienced German Shepherd K9 deputy and were subsequently taken into custody without incident as well as charged with three counts of burglary of an unoccupied conveyance.
The three teens were also reported as juvenile runaways within Hillsborough County.
According to the Sheriff’s Office website, the department’s K-9 Unit is comprised of 22 dogs including German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd/Belgian Malinois Mix, Bloodhounds, and a Labrador retriever, and 19 deputies or handlers.
Each dog has a specialty, such as bomb or narcotics detection or fugitive apprehension.
Bloodhounds are used primarily for tracking and missing person’s cases.
A dog normally joins the Sheriff’s Office when it is between 1-3 years old, and completes 480 hours of training with its handler/deputy to be certified as a law enforcement canine.
It is then given its own Sheriff’s Office personal identification number and badge and become a “treasured part of the Sheriff’s Office and any law enforcement agency.”
State laws are in place to help protect law enforcement canines by making it a felony to injure or kill a police dog.
Canines retire when they reach approximately 7-8 years of age, and become the deputy’s family pet.
For more information about HCSO’s K9 Unit, please visit www. hcso.tampa.fl.us.