“Our detectives did an outstanding job investigating this case. They got a solid lead and have been able to solve a number of burglaries as a result. Burglaries are down 15.5% in Polk County, due in part to the hard work of our detectives and their success in solving crime and putting bad guys in jail and in prison. I’m looking forward to the criminal justice system holding these two accountable for their crimes.” Sheriff Grady Judd
PCSO detectives investigating a number of recent burglaries in the Southeast part of the county developed a description of a suspect vehicle as a newer gold colored Chevrolet sedan. Televisions, jewelry, firearms, and other household items were being stolen. On August 28th, a residential burglary occurred in the area of Herndon Rd in Lake Wales, where among the stolen property taken, a victim’s debit card was stolen. The debit card was then used at the Wal-Mart in Haines City. Surveillance video was obtained from Wal-Mart which depicted a white male in his 20’s using the card in the store and exiting to the parking lot, where he entered a newer gold Chevrolet Malibu.
After an extensive search of state vehicle records, a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu belonging to 28 year old Mark Starr of 106 B. Street, Haines City was discovered. Starr was positively identified as the man from the surveillance video using the stolen debit card. An investigation into Starr revealed that he had an extensive pawn history throughout the State of Florida over the past several months. Of the items pawned, many of them matched the physical description of property stolen throughout the county and corresponded with their reported dates of theft.
An arrest warrant and search warrant was obtained on Starr for Burglary, Grand Theft, Dealing in Stolen Property, and False Verification to Pawn Broker. On 09/11/2014 detectives executed the search warrant for 106 B Street, Haines City, FL. While at the residence a 2006 red Hummer H2 pulled in front of the house. The driver, 29 year old Michael Marquis Jones of 106 Hendrix Circle, Dundee, has an extensive criminal history that includes Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon, Resist Officer without Violence, Grand Theft, Forgery, Conspiracy to commit Grand Theft, Aggravated Assault with Deadly Weapon, Tampering with Evidence, and Fleeing to Elude. He was currently out on bond for weapons charges. Inside the Hummer, several televisions and other suspicious, and possibly stolen, items were observed.
Starr cooperated with detectives and admitted his involvement with multiple burglaries where he and Jones were both involved. He told deputies he and Jones would approach the front door of a residence and knock. If a resident answered, they had a cover story including they were looking for a house in reference to a craigslist ad. If there was no answer, the suspects would force entry through a rear or secondary door. Multiple stolen items were recovered in Starr’s residence including a television, coins and jewelry, firearms, tools, and medication bottles.
The suspicious items from Jones’ Hummer were recovered and learned to be stolen from a residential burglary that occurred recently in the City of Winter Haven. Deputies served a search warrant for Jones’ residence in Dundee. The search revealed a stolen zero-turn lawn mower from a PCSO case; a stolen trailer, shovel and posthole digger from inside the city of Lake Alfred; and baseball cards stolen in a burglary from the city of Winter Haven.
Jones told deputies that he purchased the property found in his Hummer from someone else in Haines City the early morning hours on Thursday, 09/11/2014 and he denied involvement in burglaries. Jones, upon learning that the stolen trailer and mower were found in his house, declined further discussion with deputies. A search of Starr’s cellphone showed text messages between Starr and Jones discussing a burglary in Winter Haven.
The burglary investigation has led to confirmation by detectives regarding 29 active burglary cases in Polk County. The investigation will continue linking both suspects to the burglaries. Detectives have also linked the two to burglaries in the cities of: Winter Haven, Lake Wales, Lake Alfred, Lake Hamilton, and Haines City. Additional cases are being investigated with likely ties to the suspects. Of the confirmed cases, nineteen (19) firearms were stolen, thirteen (13) televisions were stolen, and twelve (12) pawn shops were visited with over thirty-nine (39) transactions. Based on the information provided by suspects, evidence recovered, and inventories of items stolen, the combined value of stolen items exceeds $121,000.
Both Starr and Jones told deputies they are receiving government benefit payments.
Both Starr and Jones have been booked into the Polk County Sheriff’s Office being held on no bond. More charges are expected; current charges on the two are:
Starr: Burglary (2 counts), grand theft of a firearm, grand theft (2 counts), false verification to a pawn broker, and dealing in stolen property.
Jones: Possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of cocaine.