A tip to Crime Stoppers led to the arrest of a 17 year old Upper Keys teen who broke into an unoccupied home by forcing the door, did damage to the inside of the house and stole property from inside. Investigations into other crimes possibly committed by the suspect are continuing.
The tipster called the anonymous hot line to say he’d seen some expensive items for sale on the Key West Yard Sale Facebook page. He said the person selling the items was selling them at very low prices and he thought it was odd; he thought perhaps the items were stolen.
Detective Ian Barnett was assigned to investigate. The person selling the items was identified and found living in Key Largo. Detective Barnett contacted him to ask him about the items he’d been selling. He said he got the items from 17 year old Brett Jones. He said Jones would supply him with the items and he would sell them and they would split the proceeds. He said he thought Jones was getting the items from his parents.
He indicated Jones was living in a white house in Port Largo, on Laguna Avenue. Detectives went to Laguna Avenue and observed a car driven by Jones stop at the Laguna Avenue house. Someone in the car with Jones got out and took several spear guns from behind the house and put them in the car. The person with Jones in the car later told detectives Jones had been staying in the house where he got the spear guns.
When detectives checked the Laguna Avenue home, they found the door had been forced open; the inside of the house was ransacked and had been damaged. A number of items, including electronics, appeared to have been taken from inside. The owner, who lives in Miami, was contacted. He said he does not know Jones and no one had permission to be in his house or to take items from his house.
Jones was arrested and charged with burglary, grand theft and criminal mischief. Investigators say this case, and several other related cases, are still under investigation. More charges and more arrests may be pending.
Detective Sgt. Mark Coleman, who is supervising the investigation of the case, said he believes there may be other people and homes in the Key Largo area who are victims and either have not reported their property stolen, or have not yet discovered their property has been stolen. He is asking people to check their property – downstairs storage areas, unused apartments, unoccupied residences – to make sure no one has broken in and stolen valuables. Victims should contact the Sheriff’s Office immediately.