Monroe County – Vehicle burglaries are on the increase this year county wide and Sheriff Bob Peryam wants to remind everyone to remove valuables from plain sight and lock your car doors at all times.
“County wide we’ve seen a big increase in vehicle burglaries,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “It is so frustrating – this is a crime that is so easily preventable, and yet we can’t convince the public to do these two simple things: remove valuables from your car, and lock your car doors. Most burglary suspects are opportunists. They walk along a street at night trying car doors until they find one open. So, don’t make yours the one they find open.”
Since January 1st, there have been 146 vehicle burglaries in the county, compared to 68 during the same time period last year. They are spread throughout the county, with 49 in the Lower Keys, 23 in the Middle Keys and 37 each in Islamorada and in the Tavernier to Key Largo area. Most of the burglaries in the Lower Keys occurred in January and February and detectives believe many of them were committed by 18 year old Ryan Tomita of Key Haven. They are still actively investigating that case and expect to close more burglaries as they match property with reported crimes.
In Islamorada, 23 of the 37 reported burglaries have taken place in April. Detectives are following leads they hope will result in an arrest of one or more suspects in those crimes. In the Tavernier to Key Largo area, vehicles have steadily been getting hit, with 10 in January, 9 in February, 7 in March and 11 so far this month.
“The difficult thing with these vehicle burglaries is, we haven’t been able to nail down a pattern. They aren’t all in one place; they aren’t all on one particular date, or at a particular time,” said Captain Don Fanelli, Commander of the Upper Keys District. “We are working hard on these, but we really need people’s help.”
“We know we are having a problem, and are bringing our resources to bear on it,” said Lt. Mitch Horn, Station Commander in Islamorada. “We need citizens to cooperate, though, with information and by making these crimes more difficult to commit.”
In the past, observant citizens have been instrumental in catching vehicle burglary suspects. Deputies can’t be everywhere at once, but people who live in neighborhoods can keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
"If you see anything out of the ordinary – a car or a pedestrian late at night that doesn’t belong on the street, unusual activity at a neighbor’s house – anything. Call the Sheriff’s Office to report it,” said Sheriff Peryam. “We really need the help and your call could be responsible for preventing a whole bunch of burglaries.”
Anyone with information about any of these crimes can also call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Callers can remain anonymous and become eligible for a cash reward if their information leads to an arrest in the case. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. People can also go on line to report a tip at http://www.tipsubmit.com/.