November 27, 2013

Detectives arrest suspect in occupied burglaries

Key Largo – A man has been arrested this morning and is believed to be connected with a number of burglaries of occupied homes in the Upper Keys.

At 2 a.m., Sheriff’s dispatchers received a report from a man who lives on Shoreland Drive near the 103.4 mile marker of Highway U.S. One. He said he’d been sleeping on his couch when a man wearing a mask, a green raincoat and camouflage shorts entered his home through an unlocked door. He said when he confronted the man, the man turned and walked out of the house.

The Sheriff’s Office had numerous extra deputies and detectives on duty, working a directed patrol operation. The operation was aimed at catching whoever it was committing burglaries of occupied dwellings over the past two weeks. There have been nine such burglaries in Key Largo and Islamorada.

The deputies and detectives working that special patrol began to converge on the area, setting up a perimeter. They began stopping any pedestrians and vehicles in the vicinity of the burglary. They also did a canvas of the neighborhood and found a second home that had been burglarized next door to the first one. The second home was entered through a second floor window which had been left unlocked. The suspect cut the window screen, and left footprints behind in several areas of the home. The homeowner was at home at the time, sleeping in her bedroom.

Detective Deb Ryan, who was participating in the perimeter, saw a car leaving the area and stopped it. The driver was soaking wet and acted nervously when she began asking him questions. He said he had no identification with him and, although he said he lived nearby, he was unable to give an exact address. Suddenly, he put the car in drive and accelerated away. Detective Ryan called for assistance from other officers, giving a description of the car and driver. The car was stopped a short distance away and the driver was arrested.

The driver initially gave a false name. Further investigation led to his true identity - 51 year old Martinez Watts of Miami. Watts currently has an outstanding warrant for violation of probation.

The victim who confronted the burglar positively identified Watts as the man who walked into his house. Although Watts was wearing a mask on his face when he entered the home, the victim recognized the way he walks, and recognized the camouflage shorts he was wearing. He was also charged with the second burglary after shoe prints found at the scene were matched to the shoes Watts was wearing. Watts was also found to be in possession of a knife when he was arrested.

The mask and the raincoat he was seen wearing were found discarded near where his car was first seen by Detective Ryan. Watts was charged with two counts of armed burglary of an occupied dwelling, two counts of resisting arrest, loitering and prowling and with the outstanding warrant.

Detectives are continuing their investigation into his involvement with the burglaries which have taken place over the past two weeks. More charges are pending.

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