April 29, 2011

Explorers keep busy with events and training

Cadets from the Upper Keys continue their training in crime scene investigation. Tucker Hall, Chance Chapmagne and Noah Hane with Detective Barney Sajdak.

Smiles all around as the pistol team from Explorer Post 905 show off their awards from the March Delegates competition. Explorers Rojas and Humelsine stand with Roy Garrett, a private sponsor, and Al DiBuono, an instructor. Special thanks to Kiffney’s Gun Shop and Reserve Deputy Brad Humelsine for their support.

Explorers Chrissy Raddatz, Bud Hummelsine, Alex Rojas and Keith Cox took part in the Seven Mile Bridge Run, running as a team.

Sheriff's Office visits with kids

The Sheriff’s Office enjoys participating in kids events, teaching them about crime prevention and about career possibilities in the law enforcement area. On the right,Traffic Enforcement Deputy Jason Keith attended an event in Key Largo this month. On the left, Det. Sgt. Bobby Randolph brought his bomb squad truck and robot to Career Day at Stanley Switlik School recently.

Checking on Sexual Offenders

The Sheriff's Office Crimes Against Women and Children's Unit teamed up with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and other agencies last week to do their quarterly Sexual Offender sweep. Each  quarter, they go out into the community and check on sexual offenders to make sure they are complying with Florida laws which require them to report their current address to law enforcement.

Left to right, Det. Manny Cuervo, Det. Sgt. Linda Mixon, Senior Supervisor for Probation Robert Audette, FDLE Agent Kathy Smith, Correctional Probation Officer Linda Brackin, Correctional Probation Senior Officer Jeff Zearley, Correctional Probation Specialist Cheryl Blyth, MCSO Records Supervisor Jamie Denton and MCSO Fingerprint Specialist Deb Richason.

Debbie Shepherd is Victim Advocate of the Year in Florida

Victim Advocate Debbie Shepherd was recently named Advocate of the Year for the State of Florida. The award was presented in Tallahassee by Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi. Left to right, Det. Sgt. Linda Mixon, Debbie Shepherd, Attorney General Bondi and Sheriff Bob Peryam.

April 28, 2011

Drug Drop program: Environmentally friendly way to dispose of medications

Monroe County – In coordination with Saturday’s “DEA prescription drug take back day”, Sheriff Bob Peryam would like to remind everyone the Sheriff’s Office will take no-longer-needed prescriptions, and over the counter medications for proper disposal any time.

County-wide, citizens may bring no-longer-needed prescription drugs and other medications in for disposal, or call and someone will pick the medications up for disposal:

• In the Upper Keys, medications will be accepted at the Plantation Key Substation Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or at the Murray Nelson building in Key Largo on Wednesdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. For pickup, call 305-853-3211 during office hours.
• In the Middle Keys, the Marathon Substation will accept any medications Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For pickup, call 305-289-2430 during office hours.
• In the Lower Keys, citizens can drop off medications at the Freeman Substation on Cudjoe Key Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or call 305-745-3184 for pickup.

Proper disposal of prescription and over the counter medications is important. Flushing them down the toilet or sink can introduce dangerous and environmentally damaging substances into the water system; throwing them away in the trash can also introduce them into the environment, and runs the risk of them winding up in the wrong hands. The medications collected by the Sheriff’s Office are burned by Detective Sgt. Bobby Randolph, who operates the Sheriff's Burn Unit and who holds a special license to burn narcotics.

April 27, 2011

Video of car burglary at Fish House Restaurant in Key Largo

A video clip from a surveillance camera at the Fish House Restaurant shows two men burglarizing a car in the parking lot. The driver of the car shown in the video - Fernando Ovalle of Homestead, Florida, was arrested earlier this week and charged with the crime. Detectives are still trying to identify the passenger, who is seen breaking the window of a car and reaching inside for valuables.

Crime goes down in Monroe County in 2010

Major Crimes went down by an impressive 8.5% in the Monroe County jurisdiction covered by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in 2010 as compared with the previous year. The total number of crimes counted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement went from 2,392 in 2009 to 2,189 in 2010. The crime rate – crimes per 100,000 people – went down by 6.6%.

Law Enforcement agencies around the state of Florida report certain crimes to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement twice a year. FDLE then issues a state-wide report on crime in Florida, which allows counties and law enforcement agencies to gauge how they are doing compared with other areas, and compared with the state as a whole.

“It is very useful information to have,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “We use it to see how we stack up with other agencies, and to see where we need to concentrate over coming months. I was particularly happy to see our violent crime go down in Monroe County by seventeen percent,” he added.

The Sheriff’s Office jurisdictional area saw decreases of 31% for forcible sex offenses; 38% for aggravated assaults; 3% for burglary; 6.5% for larceny; and 23.5% for motor vehicle theft. There were increases in murder from 2 in 2009 to 5 in 2010; robbery, from 11 in 2009 to 19 last year.

The Sheriff’s Office Clearance Rate for the year is 21.8%. There are two ways to clear a case: by arrest, or "Cleared by Exception", which means an offender has been identified but there is something beyond the agency's control which keeps that offender from being arrested. An example would be that the offender is dead, extradition is denied, or the case involves a juvenile offender who cannot be charged for some reason.

“While we always strive to close as many cases as we possibly can, it can be more difficult here in the Keys because our population – both citizens and visitors – are so transient. It is really hard to solve a case when the suspect, the victim, or both are no longer in the county,” said Sheriff Peryam.

“The big picture is our crime continues to decrease and that’s what we like to see. In 1991, we had 7,570 crimes per 100,000 people here in Monroe County. Now we have 4,145 per 100,000 people. Obviously, the county is a much safer place to live and to visit now than it was 20 years ago,” said Sheriff Peryam. “That doesn’t mean we can let our guards down, though. We all have to do our part to keep ourselves and our families safe and secure, even here in the fabulous Florida Keys,” he said.

For more information, and additional crime statistics for Monroe County and for other counties around the state, go to http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/.

April 26, 2011

Woman defrauds her own mother

Stock Island – A Stock Island woman used her mother’s name and social security number to set up seven credit accounts, spending over $10,000.00 in her mother’s name.

The victim discovered the crimes after reviewing her credit report. She called the Sheriff’s Office to report her daughter – 34 year old Miriam Garmas – had committed the crimes.

Detective Juan Llera was assigned to investigate. He found that Garmas had, among other things, paid $4,200.00 for breast augmentation on a credit line in her mother’s name. She also had credit lines set up with Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, Dell, Wal-Mart, Credit One Bank and Chase Bank.

In order to hide the crimes from her mother, Garmas had all of the correspondence from the accounts sent to her own residence on 3rd Avenue, Stock Island.

Garmas was arrested Monday for seven counts of fraud. She was booked into jail.

April 25, 2011

Burglary surveillance results in two arrests

Islamorada – Two Miami men were arrested Sunday afternoon after detectives saw them attempt to enter three vehicles parked in the parking lot of an Islamorada resort.

Upper Keys Sheriff’s Detectives were working in the area of Holiday Isle Resort, in an attempt to catch suspects burglarizing vehicles. The Upper Keys area, from Key Largo to Islamorada, has been plagued with vehicle burglaries recently, with 35 such crimes occurring in the area in April alone.

As Detective Francisco Gaete watched the parking area of Holiday Isle, he saw two men; one attempting to open the doors of a vehicle and the other who appeared to be acting as “lookout” for him.

The alarm system of a vehicle went off, and the two men walked away toward the beach; a short time later, they returned to the parking area and were seen by Detective Gaete and Detective Ralph Williams attempting to open two more vehicles in the same manner.

Detectives moved in and arrested the two men as they were getting in to a 2002 Jaguar belonging to one of them. 28 year old Joaquin Suarez and 33 year old Carlos Castillo were both arrested. Suarez was charged with three counts of attempted burglary of a vehicle and Castillo with three counts of being an accessory to the crimes.

They were booked into jail.

April 24, 2011

Detectives arrest vehicle burglar; more arrests expected

Fernando Ovalle, suspected
of committing at least 19
vehicle burglaries in the Keys.
 Key Largo – Detectives investigating a spike of vehicle burglaries in the area from key Largo to Islamorada have arrested one man and expect more arrests and more charges.

Detective Sgt. David Carey says out of the 35 burglaries which have taken place this month in that area, he and his investigators believe 19 of them were committed by 39 year old Fernando Ovalle of Homestead. They are working with the Monroe County State Attorney’s Office to identify other suspects and to bring further charges against Ovalle.

A break in the case came after a vehicle burglary on April 2nd at the Fish House Restaurant in Key Largo in which the suspects were caught on surveillance video. The tape showed a silver colored Jeep pulling in the parking lot with two men inside. One man – Ovalle - is seen breaking a window in another vehicle, reaching inside and removing a black case with a laptop computer and several other items inside, including an IPhone. Also seen on the tape: the man breaking the window had extensive tattoos on his arm.

The victim in the case had an application on her IPhone which tracks the phone. She assisted detectives in tracking the phone to a trailer in a Homestead Trailer Park. It showed the phone to be in a back bedroom of the trailer. Detectives went to the trailer and knocked on the door. The woman who answered said the bedroom at the back belonged to her son, Fernando Ovalle. She said he wasn’t home, and she would not tell detectives where he was. They discovered, through investigations, that Ovalle drives a silver colored jeep. Pictures on Ovalle’s MySpace page show extensive tattoos on his arm matching those on the surveillance tape.

On Thursday, Sheriff’s detectives, with the assistance of Homestead Police, Miami-Dade Police and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement went to the trailer where Ovalle is living in Homestead and served an arrest warrant on him. A search of the residence turned up a number of items which have been identified as coming from vehicle burglaries in Monroe County. He was taken into custody and booked into the Miami-Dade County jail. Monroe County investigations are continuing and more charges are expected. Detectives are also attempting to identify Ovalle’s accomplices in the crimes he has committed here. Cases are being investigated by Detectives Frank Gaete, Barney Sajdak and Ralph Williams.

Anyone with information about Ovalle, or any information about people committing vehicle burglaries in the Keys, should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida keys. If a tip leads to an arrest, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may be made on line at http://www.tipsubmit.com/.

Stock Island man charged with business burglary

Stock Island – A 33 year old homeless Stock island man has been charged with burglarizing a Stock Island fish house.

33 year old Matthew Tidwell was arrested Saturday, charged with burglarizing Fishbusters Seafood. An employee called the Sheriff’s Office April 18th to report the break in. She said she came to work that morning to find the front window broken and a large amount of seafood missing.

Video surveillance footage showed the crime taking place. Deputies David Cruz and David Lariz viewed the video footage and identified the suspect from previous law enforcement encounters as Tidwell. Tidwell is shown breaking the window and taking two bags of mussels, ten pounds of Dolphin fillets and 20 pounds of Grouper fillets.

In addition to the deputies recognizing Tidwell, the video also shows a distinctive tattoo of a sun with a face on it on his left arm. Previous jail booking photos of Tidwell showed he has that tattoo on his arm.

A warrant was issued for his arrest for burglary. On Saturday, he was arrested by Deputy Danielle Malone. He was booked into jail for burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief.

April 22, 2011

Search warrant results in arrests

Stock Island – A search warrant served on Maloney Avenue, Stock Island Wednesday resulted in two arrests.

Detectives from the Special Investigations Division, assisted by the Sheriff’s Special Weapons and Tactics team, served the warrant at 6630 Maloney Avenue, apartment 7C at 6:40 a.m. When they arrived, they found two men outside working on a car and a third man inside on a couch. The search turned up marijuana, crack cocaine and powdered cocaine in several different areas of the residence, including near the couch and outside on a chair.

One of the men outside, 36 year old Shevin Oliver, claimed ownership of the drugs found outside. He was arrested and charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana. The man on the couch, 22 year old Marcus Jacques, was charged with possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with possession of a weapon after a .22 caliber Derringer was found in a drawer inside, next to some paperwork with his name on it.

Oliver also had an outstanding warrant for sale of cocaine and Jacques had an outstanding drug related warrant as well.

Both men were booked into jail.

Michigan man dies while snorkeling

 Key Largo – A 69 year old Salnie, Michigan man died after snorkeling offshore of Key Largo Thursday afternoon.

According to the captain of the vessel Coral Princess VI, out of Atlantis Dive Center, Ronald Harrison was having trouble as he was swimming back to the boat. The first mate jumped in to help, followed by the captain a few minutes later. They got Harrison up on the back platform and began performing CPR and called for help.

Tow Boat US responded and assisted by transporting Harrison to shore. They met Deputy Joshua Brady and paramedics at Garden Cove Marina at the 106 mile marker of U.S. One. Paramedics pronounced Harrison dead at 6:30 p.m.

His body was turned over to the Medical Examiner for an autopsy to determine the cause of his death.

April 19, 2011

Several scam cases reported to the Sheriff’s Office

Detectives in the Lower Keys are investigating a number of scams in which some of the victims were bilked of thousands of dollars each.

A Stock Island man lost more than $3,000.00 after responding to a on line job posting on Craigslist. He said he was hired as a driver for someone who was going to visit Key West. He received first payment before the “visitor” arrived: a cashier’s check for $3,850.00. He was instructed to cash the check and keep $500.00 for himself. The rest he was told to send in a Money Gram to a “travel agent” to cover the “visitor’s” travel expenses. After sending the money, the original cashier’s check bounced and he was told by his bank it was a fraud.

A couple on Little Torch Key have their boat for sale on Craigslist. They received an email from someone who wanted to purchase the boat. The purchaser said he would pay for the vessel using his PayPal account. He told them he had a shipper in London ready to pick up the boat, but he said he needed to pay the shipper $950.00 and didn’t have a credit card to pay them with. He asked the couple to pay the shipping company for him. He asked them to send the money through Western Union and he would reimburse them. They said they received several emails ostensibly from PayPal confirming all the information. After sending the money, they began to feel uncertain about it and called PayPal. PayPal said they had no record of an account set up by the man they had been dealing with.

A Bay Point woman received a phone call from someone identifying themselves as her grandson. He told her he needed money because he was in an accident in Mexico and needed to pay for repairs. He told her to send the money to Spain, because the rental car company owning the wrecked car was based in that country. She sent $3,500.00 by Western Union. Later, she called her grandson and he told her he was in Los Angeles, California and had not called her for any money.

A Summerland Key woman began receiving phone calls from friends and acquaintances who said they had gotten a strange email from her. The email said she was in Madrid, Spain and needed $3,000.00 to help a critically ill cousin. The email said she’d left the country on short notice and did not have enough money. By all accounts, the email was well written and even contained accurate information about her business. She said all the information was, however, false and, fortunately, everyone contacted her first before sending money.

Detectives say the bottom line in cases like these: if you have the slightest suspicion that things aren’t right, don’t send money. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be extremely careful when it comes to dealing with strangers, especially when it comes to sending cash anywhere, or accepting checks from anyone you don’t know. Ask lots of questions, and when it doubt, call your bank for help, or call local law enforcement. You can’t be too careful, and the Sheriff’s Office would rather help you up front, before you lose money, than after the fact.

Detectives looking for suspect in lower unit thefts

Detectives are looking for 24 year old Daniel Tabares
Islamorada – Detectives say they have obtained a warrant in connection with the attempted theft of six lower units from high end boat motors in Islamorada last week.

Detective Ralph Williams, the investigator on the case, says 24 year old Daniel Tabares was one of the men who parked a car at Library Park in Islamorada on the night of April 12th and removed the six lower units from three boats at Caribee Boat Sales and Marina. Deputy Patrick Crozier stopped at the park to do a check on the area and found the lower units on the ground. He saw two suspects fleeing the area.

Next to two of the lower units, he found a CVS receipt for a Twix chocolate bar, a bottle of spring water, a container of coconut water and some work gloves. The work gloves were found near the lower units; the other items on the receipt were found in a blue BMW sedan parked in the parking lot of the park. Also found in the car: an IRS form with the name Daniel Tabares. A driver’s license photo was obtained for Tabares.

Surveillance video was obtained from CVS Pharmacy. The same person from the IRS Form – Tabares - was seen on the video purchasing the items on the receipt. He was seen passing several of the items he purchased to a second man who remains unidentified.

Based on all this information, Detective Williams obtained a warrant for the arrest of Tabares for burglary and grand theft. Tabares is believed to be a resident of the Miami or Homestead areas. Anyone with information about Tabares, or where he might be, should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-853-3211. Callers who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. If a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at http://www.tipsubmit.com/.

April 18, 2011

Sheriff reminds everyone to lock their vehicles

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/.

April 15, 2011

Sergeant donates for Easter

Sgt. Evan Calhoun recently donated 10 Easter baskets and over 400 Easter eggs
to the Key West Library, which is requesting donations for it’s Children’s Easter
Celebration this year. Note to kids: There really is an Easter Bunny, but sometimes
he needs a little help to get it all done!

Relay for life fun, a success

The Sheriff’s Relay for Life team in Marathon held a
 number of fund raising events leading up to the
 Relay, and participated in the Relay itself, having
 lots of fun and raising lots of money.

Memorial ride for fallen officers

A large group turned out for the Memorial Ride for Fallen Officers in
the Upper Keys, to honor Deputy Melissa Powers, who was killed
last year in a traffic accident.

Thanks to Pontunes Restaurant, who donated lunch for everyone.
Approximately 100 people attended the event, including Melissa's
family, after which many went to the roadside memorial at the 102.1
mile marker to pay their respects.

Law Enforcement agencies talk traffic safety

Traffic deputies Juan Martin-Reyes, Greg Korzen, Andrew Leird, Jacek Szymanski
and Jason Keith attended a Florida Law Enforcement Liaison meeting at the Homestead
Speedway recently, with Key Colony Beach Chief Robert Petrick and representatives
from 45 other South Florida law enforcement agencies. to discuss traffic safety.

Telecommunicators Week

This week is National Public Safety Telecommunications Week and the Sheriff’s Office would like to recognize the diligence and professionalism of our Telecommunicators – Sheriff’s dispatchers - who serve in our communications center in Marathon.

For forty years 9-1-1 has served as the vital link between the American public and emergency services, and it is with great pride that our highly skilled Public Safety Dispatchers who have contributed substantially to the apprehension of criminals, suppression of fires, and treatment of patients be recognized for their efforts.

"Our Sheriff’s Office dispatchers fill a crucial role in our response to calls for service,” said Sheriff Bob Peryam. “Our agency could not perform the vital function of responding to calls for help without them. They are the first contact people have – they set the tone and dispatch the emergency services. They are oftentimes the lifeline until an officer can respond. We all truly appreciate them, and the job the do for the citizens of Monroe County,” he said.

Public Safety Agencies nationwide take one week a year - the second full week in April - to recognize the pivotal role played by telecommunicators, dispatchers, communications operators, radio control personnel - ALL those people, by whatever job title, who utilize telephones, radios, computers and technical skill to provide support to Law Enforcement, Fire Services, Emergency Medical Services and other governmental field personnel. Each year, National Telecommunicator's Week is dedicated to the men and women who serve as public safety telecommunicators. In 1991, Congress proclaimed it as a special national week of recognition.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office would like everyone to take a little time to think about the crucial role played by our Sheriff's Office Communications Officers. They handle thousands of phone calls, dispatch deputies, firefighters and paramedics, and do their utmost to keep the public safe as they perform one of the most stressful positions in law enforcement. In 2005, they handled 116,586 Law Enforcement calls for service, 4,478 medical calls and 682 fire calls.

In honor of these dedicated men and women, here is a review of the rules to follow when you call 911 to report a crime or emergency:

The 911 System

911 is an emergency response service provided by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to assist the citizens of our county with receiving law enforcement, fire, and ambulance assistance during crisis times. Sheriff’s Office Communications Officers man special emergency phone lines 24 hours a day so that the citizens of Monroe County may receive help as expeditiously as possible. The Sheriff's Office answers these emergency phone lines for the Key Colony Beach Police as well as Firefighters and ambulances county wide.

At the same time as they answer 911 calls, Sheriff' s Office Communications Officers also answer non- emergency calls on regular phone lines. Obviously, someone in a crisis situation will get assistance prior to someone calling with a non-emergency situation.

When Should You call 911?

911 Emergency calls should be made only in cases such as a crime in progress, a fire, a medical emergency, or a similar immediately threatening case. A possible 911 situation can involve something you see - a burglar breaking in to a neighbor’s house, a fire, an automobile accident. It can also involve what you hear - a woman screaming or yelling "Don’t hit me again," gunfire, an explosion or glass breaking. Also, a suspected drunk driver is always a 911 call. They’re potential killers not only of themselves, but of innocent bystanders as well.

Before you call, gather as many facts as you can under the circumstances and write them down so you won’t forget them. Take a second look - a minute gathering more complete information may be worth the delay. If you are describing a person, important points include the race of the person, whether it is a male or a female, what the person is wearing, the color of his or her hair and any other outstanding characteristics. With a car description, a tag number is great if you can get it, and a report that the vehicle had a ladder on top or a dented left front fender is more useful than simply describing the vehicle as a "white van".

The job of the communications officer is to gather as much pertinent information relative to the situation as possible and to keep you on the phone if at all possible. This action better prepares deputies coming to your aid.

What to expect when you call 911

When you call 911 emergency lines, one of the first things you will be asked is "Is this an emergency? This question is a necessary one because unfortunately, some people do call 911 for non-emergencies. Communications Officers must often deal with 911 calls for directions, weather conditions or traffic information. This misuse of 911 is unacceptable, and has the potential of delaying true emergency calls.

Once it is established that you do have an emergency situation, the Communications Officer will ask you a series of questions in an effort to get enough information so he/she can send the proper assistance to you as soon as possible. Try to answer the questions as calmly and clearly as possible. Help will be sent to you right away, and the more cooperative you are over the phone, the faster that help will arrive. When you call 911, a computerized system will automatically tell the Communications Officer your address and phone number. If you have any special medical conditions you can register that information with the Sheriff’s Office and that information can be included in the system, and will be available to Communications officers when you call. The officer will continue to talk with you after help has been dispatched to you. The longer he/she can keep you on the phone and the more information that can be relayed to the responding deputy, ambulance or fire truck, the better and safer the situation is.

Communications officers in Monroe County are trained in Emergency Medical Dispatching. This means if you have a medical emergency, the Communications Officer will be able to assist you with initial treatment steps, such as performing CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver for choking victims, or other common medical emergencies.

Misuse of the 911 Emergency system

Unfortunately a substantial number of 911 calls received by MCSO Communications Officers are not of an emergency nature. If you are reporting a non-emergency situation such as a suspicious person, a previously stolen bike or a dog continually barking, 911 is not the proper number to call. The Sheriff’s Office offers non-emergency phone numbers for the reporting of such calls. Your call will still be handled appropriately, but this will allow true emergencies to be handled first.

Let me re-emphasize: 911 is for emergency calls only and is not equipped to answer questions, give directions, weather forecasts or road conditions. How would you like it if you had a real emergency and someone else was tying up the Communications Officer asking where the closest post office is? To report a non-emergency call, the following phone numbers may be called 24 hours a day: 305-745-3184, 305-289-2430, 305-853-3211, 305-289-2351.

Detectives investigate attempted lower unit thefts

Islamorada – Deputies interrupted the theft of six high end lower units from boat motors at Caribee Boat Sales and Marina Tuesday night.

Deputy Patrick Crozier was doing a late-night check at the Library Beach Park in Islamorada at 11:30 p.m. When he walked into the park, he saw two Yamaha lower units laying on the ground by the restrooms. When he looked around, he saw two young looking men running toward the bay. He called for back up officers, who arrived and set up around the area in an attempt to locate the fleeing suspects.

Four more lower units were found near the fence that separates the park from Caribee Boat Sales and Marina. Near them, Deputy Crozier found a number of items, including a CVS bag and a receipt from CVS Pharmacy with a time and date stamp showing purchases had been made that same day at 8:17 p.m. On the receipt: a Twix candy bar, Coconut water, a bottle of spring water and a pair of work gloves. A pair of work gloves were also found near the stolen lower units.

Further investigation led to the discovery of a dark blue BMW parked in the parking lot of Library Beach Park. In the center console: Coconut water, bottled water and a wrapper from a Twix candy bar.

Three boats on the other side of the fence, at Caribee Boat Sales, were missing two lower units each – the same ones found in the park.

Detective Ralph Williams has been assigned to investigate and arrests are expected in the case.

Key Haven man charged with three more burglaries

Key Haven – An 18 year old Key Haven resident has been charged with three more burglaries as detectives continue to trace stolen property found in his bedroom during a search warrant last week.

18 year old Ryan Tomita has been charged with entering two unlocked vehicles on 7th Avenue West, Cudjoe Key in February. He took a digital camera from one and a GPS from the other. Both the items were found in his bedroom during the search warrant. He has also been charged with breaking into a home on Barbuda Lane on Ramrod Key sometime between March 13th and April 4th. He pried open a sliding glass door, taking a flat screen television, a metal detector and an underwater camera all of which were later located in his bedroom. During the break-in, he smashed a closet door, and ransacked the contents of the closet.

Tomita, who already faces multiple burglary counts, is additionally charged with two counts each of vehicle burglary and theft, and residential burglary, criminal mischief and grand theft. Detective Diane Mimosa, who is heading up the investigation into Tomita’s crimes, says more charges are expected.

April 14, 2011

Marathon woman dies in fire

Photo courtesy of Sheriff's Sgt. Charlene Sprinkle-Huff.
Marathon – A Marathon woman died in a house fire overnight.

When deputies and firefighters arrived at 1203 Westward Ho Lane shortly after midnight, flames were coming from all of the windows of the home. Resident Ernest Pratt, 46, was outside, but told them his wife, 50 year old Nancy Pratt, was still inside the home. At that point, however, there was no safe way to enter the fully engulfed building.

Pratt told Deputy Thomas Hill the smoke detectors woke him. He got up to check why they were going off and found the back porch on fire.

He said he called 911 on his cell phone; he said at one point, the glass leading out to the porch exploded from the heat and his back was burned. He said he tried to get his wife out of the residence, but finally had to flee the home himself as the fire spread.

Pratt was treated for the burns on his back at Fishermen’s Hospital. The State Fire Marshal responded to the scene and will be investigating the cause of the deadly blaze.

April 9, 2011

18 year old faces two more burglary counts

Key Haven – As detectives continue the process of going through property taken from an 18 year old burglary suspects room, they have charged him with two more vehicle burglaries.

On Friday, 18 year old Ryan Tomita was charged with vehicle burglaries on Stock Island and on Cudjoe Key. According to Detective Diane Mimosa, on March 22nd Tomita burglarized a Sport Utility vehicle on Golf Club Drive, taking a digital camera; on March 30th, he entered a vehicle on Pattison Drive, Cudjoe Key and took a Garmin GPS. Both the camera and GPS were among a large amount of property recovered from Tomita’s room when detectives executed a search warrant on his home earlier in the week.

More charges are expected.

Alert citizens lead to burglary arrest on Big Pine Key

Big Pine Key – Deputies arrested a homeless man Friday for burglary after he was seen exiting a home on Avenue C, Big Pine Key by a woman who works next door.

The woman told deputies she saw 49 year old Waldermar Yanez coming out of the house on Avenue C at 11:30 a.m. carrying a pillow case with items inside of it. She said she yelled at him and he began running, so she followed him in her car. Several more witnesses in the area joined in the chase; one of them knew the suspect, and called Deputy Dave Chavka to tell him what was happening.

Deputy Chavka called for backup, and then headed for the area of 24th Street, where he knew Yanez had a camp in a wooded area. When he arrived, two more witnesses pointed toward the woods, saying Yanez had just gone that way.

Deputy Chavka found Yanez’ bicycle, then found him a short distance away breathing hard as if he’d been running. He was identified by the original witness as the man she saw leaving the house on Avenue C.

The homeowner was notified and responded from marathon. A window was found broken, and a glass jug of quarters was at the bottom of the stairs. Inside, an Xbox 360 had been taken along with a brown pillowcase and someone had obviously gone through the house, opening closets and looking around.

Yanez was charged with burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief and he was taken to jail.

April 8, 2011

Employees receive awards

Sergeants Roy Bogue and Dennis Coleman, and Colonel Rick Ramsay all recently received awards from American Legion Post 145 in Islamorada in recognition of their extensive community involvement. Congratulations to you all!

Employees receive promotions

Sheriff's Office IA Inspector and Attorney Janine Gedmin (top photo) was promoted to Sergeant this week in advance of her upcoming retirement.

Juan Morales was also honored with his promotion to Detention Sergeant this week at the Sheriff’s Monday morning staff meeting.

18 year old charged with Islamorada burglary

Islamorada – An 18 year old Tavernier man is under arrest, charged with burglarizing an Islamorada home while a family of four was sleeping inside.

During the early morning hours of April 6th, 18 year old Myles Harding allegedly entered the home on Navajo Street while the victims slept. He stole a computer, other electronics, a large amount of jewelry and some cash. A 17 year old girl sleeping in her bedroom woke when he walked by her room; she told Detective Sgt. Dave Carey she thought it was her brother, so she went back to sleep.

In the morning, the mother woke to find the home’s door wide open. At first, she said she thought someone else in the family had gone outside; a short time later, the family realized they had been burglarized and called the Sheriff’s Office. Deputy Caridad Bellon and Detective Francisco Gaete responded to investigate.

On Thursday, the mother received information from a friend that Harding had gone to a Miami pawn shop and pawned some of her jewelry. Harding is an acquaintance of the family and she knew he’d recently moved back into town and was living with his grandparents in Tavernier. She called the Sheriff’s Office to report the information.

Det. Sgt. Carey interviewed Harding on Thursday. During the interview, Harding admitted committing the crime. Some of the stolen jewelry was recovered from his car. A small amount of marijuana was also found in the glove compartment along with a pipe used to smoke it.

Harding was arrested. He was charged with burglary of an occupied residence, grand theft, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was booked into jail.

April 7, 2011

Hialeah man charged with Long Key burglary

Long Key – A Hialeah man is under arrest, charged with burglarizing a home on Long Key.

The burglary took place in Outdoor Resorts between August 27th and September 10th of 2010. Deputy Vaughn O’Keefe responded to the home when the owner discovered the break in.

The owner said he found the front door unlocked. When he entered, he found a large amount of property missing, including several television sets, DVD players, a computer, dive equipment, tools and many other items.

Fingerprints were taken at the scene. The fingerprints were later identified as belonging to 20 year old Giovanni Fabregat of Hialeah, Florida. Fabregat’s family had rented the property several years previously; they also own a property in the resort, and were visiting it during the time the break in took place.

A warrant was issued for his arrest for burglary and criminal mischief. On Wednesday, he was booked into jail on those charges.

April 6, 2011

18 year old charged with burglaries

Colonel Rick Ramsay and Detectives Juan Llera and John Underwood
take a look at property recovered from Tomita's room.
Key Haven – Detectives arrested an 18 year old after a search of his parent’s Key Haven home turned up a large amount of property believed to have been stolen in multiple vehicle and residential burglaries in the lower Keys.

Ryan Tomita became a suspect after two vehicles were burglarized on Cudjoe Key between the night of March 16th and the morning of the 17th. Two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents – a husband and wife – discovered their two Department of Homeland Security vehicles had been burglarized. Taken from one: a badge, gun belt, handcuffs, expandable baton, pepper spray, bullet proof vest and a wallet. Taken from the other: a digital camera.

Detective Diane Mimosa, the lead investigator on the case, discovered a credit card from the wallet was used on line in the early morning hours of the 17th. The person using the card used a fictitious email address. A subpoena to PayPal for information about that transaction led to Comcast; a subpoena to Comcast led to an address on Azalea Drive in Key Haven where Tomida lives with his parents. Checking Tomita’s Facebook page, Detective Mimosa found a comment posted by him in the early morning hours of March 17th: “If you ask me Ima tell you crime pays.” When confronted with this evidence, Tomita admitted he would drive his car to various locations; he said he would get out of the car and walk up and down streets, burglarizing unlocked vehicles, including the DHS vehicles on Cudjoe Key. He said he also used a screw driver and a crow bar to break into homes where he took flat screen television sets.

Detectives Llera and Underwood, holding ski masks also found
in Tomita's room.
On April 5th, a search warrant was served at the Azalea Drive home where Tomita lives. In Tomita’s room, detectives found a large stash of what they believe to be stolen property, including all the law enforcement equipment stolen from the ICE agents on Cudjoe Key. Several guns, a large number of global position satellite receivers, cameras, jewelry and flat screen televisions were recovered and detectives will be working over the next few days to try and identify where the property came from. One of the handguns – a Taurus .44 Magnum handgun – was stolen from a vehicle parked on Whistling Duck Lane on Stock Island between 3/17 – 3/18. Tomita admitted to committing that crime as well.

During the search, detectives also found two knit ski caps with holes cut for the eyes; they found marijuana plants, seeds and dried marijuana as well.

Tomita is charged with three counts of vehicle burglary, theft, theft of law enforcement equipment from an emergency vehicle, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. More charges are expected as the investigation continues.

April 3, 2011

Marathon man arrested for threatening girlfriend and her child

Marathon – A Marathon man is in jail, charged with threatening his girlfriend, her infant son and kicking the child’s stroller while he was sitting in it.

Deputies responded to an apartment at 13755 Overseas Highway Friday at 8:30 p.m. When Sgt. Joel Slough and Deputy Christian Galls arrived, they could see a woman holding a child and a man inside the apartment. He could hear the man, identified as 30 year old Joseph Arnone, yelling at the victim and throwing things in the apartment.

The officers intervened in the confrontation. They could see bruising and cuts on the victim’s face. She told them Arnone had slammed a door in her face and had slapped her. She said he also threatened to kill her and to kill her infant son in front of her if she called police. He told her he was a gang member and, if she reported the abuse he would have his fellow gang members “hunt her down and kill her”.

She said he told her if he was going back to prison “he was going to make sure it was worth it”. He reportedly said he would kill her “slowly and quietly”. She said at one point, her son was in a stroller and Arnone kicked the stroller.

Arnone was arrested. He was charged with failing to register in Monroe County as a convicted felon, assault, aggravated battery, cruelty toward a child, and tampering with evidence. He was booked into jail.

Woman arrested for marijuana, child cruelty

Marathon – A woman was arrested Friday evening after deputies found marijuana in her van. Her child was turned over to the Department of Children and Families.

Deputy David Minor and Key Colony Beach Officer Kris Digiovanni responded to the end of Coco Plum Road at 7:15 p.m. where they found 29 year old Johanna Cisneros and her four year old son, who was running around with no clothes on, with sand on his face and body. Cisneros had a black eye which she said was from her husband hitting her.

When the officers began questioning Cisneros, she told a number of different stories about who she was, where she was from, who she was with and what she was doing in the Keys. The van she and her son were traveling with was dirty, with trash littering the inside and ants and roaches crawling around the interior. A check on the van’s registration came back to a man in Palm Beach County she said was her husband.

She told the officers there was a gun in the car and gave them permission to retrieve it from the area of the center console. Instead of finding a gun in that location, however, Deputy Minor found a plastic bag with 93 grams of marijuana inside. Cisneros was placed under arrest.

She was taken to jail, charged with possession of marijuana and cruelty to a child. The child was turned over to DCF.