February 2, 2015

Pattern emerges in business burglaries

Upper Keys detectives are working a series of business burglaries that have taken place over the last eight months in the Upper Keys. The crimes have similarities detectives say may indicate the crimes were committed by the same suspect.

On June 13th, 2014 the general manger of the Pilot House Restaurant on Seagate Boulevard called to report someone broke in overnight by forcing open a storage area and stealing two bottles of liquor.
On November 8th, the Assistant Commander of the American Legion on Seagate Boulevard in Key Largo called to report a burglary. Cash was taken from inside the business. It appears the suspect cut the screen on a porch. A sliding glass door on the porch was found open.
On November 22nd, a cook reported to work at 6 a.m. at Sharky’s Pub and Galley Restaurant on Caribbean Drive in Key Largo. Just after arriving to work in the upstairs kitchen, he went downstairs to get items from the cooler. He surprised a man who had broken in through the front door. The suspect was holding a cash drawer, night deposits and a money bag. The man ran, with the cook chasing him, and dropped all the items he’d stolen as he fled. The cook picked up all the stolen items and called the Sheriff’s Office for help.
On Christmas day, an employee of Snook’s Bayside at the 99.4 mile marker of the highway in Key Largo called the Sheriff’s Office in the morning to report finding the office burglarized. Someone had entered through the office door and stolen bank bags with cash inside.
On January 29th at 1 a.m. deputies responded to a business alarm at D-Hookers Restaurant at the 102.5 mile marker of the highway in Key Largo. The suspect entered the building through a rooftop ventilation system. He forced the office door. There were two safes inside. He was unable to access the large safe, which was bolted in place and locked. He took a smaller safe, which was empty at the time of the burglary.
On February 1st, deputies responded to Island Market Place at the 101 mile marker of the highway in Key Largo. Vendors who operate at the indoor flea market discovered someone had entered overnight and gone through their property. A number of them reported missing money, although it did not appear any merchandise was taken. The suspect entered the building through a ventilation system.

The cook at Sharkey’s Pub – the only eye witness – said the suspect is a white male, although he did not get a good look at his face. The witness description and descriptions from several video surveillance systems at the burglarized businesses appear to be similar when it comes to height, build and type of clothing. The suspect had his head and/or face covered however, in all the instances he was caught on video.

The burglaries are relatively close in proximity and are similar in that the suspect rummages through the businesses, but seems mostly to be interested in taking cash.

“This is why we always advise business owners not to leave cash overnight,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Take it with you; make a night deposit at your bank. Make sure doors and windows are locked at closing, and if you have video surveillance equipment and/or an alarm system, make sure they are in working order,” he said. All of those things can help when it comes to preventing, or solving such crimes.

Detectives are hoping someone knows something about one or more of these crimes. Maybe the suspect bragged about it, or talked about it to someone he knows. If anyone knows anything they should contact Upper Keys detectives at 853-3211. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, 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 www.tipsubmit.com or via a text message to 274637 using the keyword TIP136.

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