The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys are hoping the offer of a significant reward will encourage people who know something about marine related thefts in the Keys to come forward and report the information; specifically information about the theft of marine electronics and the lower units from boat motors.
“We really need some help on these cases,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “We are doing everything we can possibly do, but we really need people to come forward and help us nail these criminals.”
To that end, Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys is offering up to $2,500 for information which leads to an arrest or arrests and Sheriff Ramsay is going to match the Crime Stoppers reward. That means a caller whose information leads to an arrest could get up to $5,000 for a single, simple phone call.
“We are encouraging people to call us if they have information. You can remain completely anonymous and still be eligible for a reward – that is what Crime Stoppers is all about,” said Sheriff Ramsay.
Countywide – but largely concentrated in the Middle and Lower Keys - the Sheriff’s Office has been inundated with reports of high-end electronics thefts and the thefts of lower units. These crimes are occurring all over the Keys, with no real pattern. Equipment is being taken from boats in residential canals, parked on the street on trailers and from boats stored at marinas. The investigations of these thefts is complicated by the fact that many victims are part time residents who don’t discover they have been victimized for days or even weeks. Additionally, the equipment being stolen is relatively easy to remove, to transport and to sell.
Sheriff Ramsay wants everyone to know the agency isn’t just sitting back and letting these crimes happen. Deputies and detectives are working hard trying to catch these thieves. Detectives are working nights and weekends doing special patrols, staking out potential targets and doing special surveillance details. Deputies are doubling up their efforts to keep an eye on boats in canals and parked in residential neighborhoods. Command staff is making contact with marine businesses, crime watches and homeowner’s associations making them all aware of what is happening. Detectives county-wide are following up on phone calls and tips from the public. The agency has had assistance from other agencies including the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection.
During the course of the ongoing investigations, detectives have gathered surveillance video, photos, and other evidence from possible suspects. All of it is being processed. Some of the video and the photos are being made available to the public in the hopes someone will recognize someone.
Most recently, this past weekend saw a spate of these crimes in Marathon:
· A boat docked behind a home on 5th Avenue Gulf was burglarized between Sunday night and Monday morning; fishing equipment and a high-end Garmin GPS were stolen from a 31 foot Contender.
· A boat docked behind a home on Yellowtail Drive in Marathon was burglarized between Sunday night and Monday morning. A Garmin GPS unit was stolen from the center console of the vessel.
· A 26 foot Sailfish center console parked on a trailer next to a house on Channel Drive in Marathon was burglarized between 1:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Monday. A Garmin GPS was stolen along with rods and reels and a tackle box.
· A vessel docked behind a home on Corte Del Sol in Marathon was burglarized between Sunday night and Monday morning. A GPS system and three engine gauges were taken from the center console of the boat.
· A vessel docked at a home on Grouper Drive in Marathon was burglarized between Sunday night and Monday morning. A GPS system was taken from the vessel.
· A 30 foot Sailfish boat was burglarized while docked behind a home on Treasure Road in Marathon between Sunday night and Monday evening. A GPS and radar unit were taken from the center console.
· Between Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, a 28 foot Mako docked at the Sunshine Key Marina was burglarized. A Garmin GPS was stolen from the boat.
· Between Monday night and Tuesday morning two lower units were taken form a 25 foot Mako boat docked at the Sunshine Key marina.
“There are people out there who know what is going on. They know who is responsible. We want those people to pick up the phone and report it. You don’t have to tell us who you are. And we will pay you well for your information,” said Sheriff Ramsay. “It is a win-win for the person who calls. They can make a substantial sum of money and the suspect or suspects they report will never know who turned them in.”
Anyone with information about these crimes should contact the Sheriff’s Office at 305-481-8060. 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 of up to $5,000. 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.