Between June 6, 2001 and August 15, 2001, an unknown individual or individuals attempted or committed 24 burglaries of occupied residences in the Christina, Longwood Oaks and Royal Forest subdivisions, south of Lakeland. In each case, entry was gained through opened garages, unlocked doors and windows.
Once this trend of offenses became apparent, the Sheriff's Office implemented a number of tactics in an attempt to apprehend the perpetrators. Those tactics included increased patrols, the quick deployment of K-9, the utilization of the Air Unit and surveillance activities.
Early Thursday morning, August 16, 2001, during one of those surveillances, deputies observed a white mini-van traveling along a dirt access road next to the Longwood Oaks subdivision, this occurred at approximately 4 a.m.
A male subject was observed exiting the vehicle and attempting to penetrate the fence surrounding the subdivision. Within moments, the van sped off from the area. Responding deputies closed in on the vehicle, which proceeded south on State Road 37 at normal speeds. As support units converged, the van made a rapid turn into the Lakewood Mobile Park and accelerated to the west. This road is a dead end and the suspect vehicle careened through a fence, coming to halt on a railroad right of way. One subject was observed exiting the vehicle and fleeing on foot.
Attempts to apprehend this subject were unsuccessful. It is believed that a second suspect fled the initial observation area and also eluded deputies. The vehicle, a white Ford Wind Star, was stolen during the course of a burglary in early June in the same vicinity of the other events.
Efforts at identifying the suspects and locating them continue. Detectives are requesting assistance in locating the possible suspect(s). Anyone with information who wishes to remain anonymous and be eligible for up to a $2,000 reward is asked to call Polk County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-226-TIPS.
|Distribution: Undersheriff, Division Commanders, Communications, News Media|
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