A recent investigation conducted by detectives assigned to the Burglary and Pawn Unit of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office resulted in the arrest of a 47-year-old transient who is believed to have committed almost 120 commercial burglaries in Pinellas and three other bay area counties between March and June of this year. The burglaries were all committed while the businesses were closed, and most involved a technique known as "Smash and Grab." The type of businesses targeted by this suspect varied, although in most cases the cost to repair the damage he caused while breaking in was far greater than the small amount of cash that was stolen.
During this investigation, detectives from several law enforcement agencies in Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, and Hernando Counties worked together and shared information to develop leads that would help identify the suspect. Ultimately the suspect was arrested after a witness observed him committing two burglaries and reported the crimes right away. Deputies and detectives, who had been strategically positioned based on this pattern, intercepted and arrested the suspect as he attempted to get away.
In smash and grab burglary the perpetrator will use a rock, a chunk of concrete, or a similar object to shatter a window or glass door to gain entry. Once inside, cash or valuables are quickly sought, followed by a swift escape. It is believed by some security experts that windows and glass doors offer the easiest point of entry for intruders. This is true for not only businesses, but for homes and vehicles as well.
A "Smash and Grab" burglary is often a crime of opportunity in which the perpetrator believes there is something of valuable within easy reach. By following a few simple suggestions you may minimize your chances of becoming a victim of this type of crime. The most basic, and probably the easiest tip to remember, is not to leave valuables in plain view when you are not nearby. This is includes items left in plain sight inside automobiles, items on display at a business after hours, or items inside your home. Window laminate or security shutters reduce the possibility of easy glass breakage, and may discourage a would-be intruder. Sufficient security lighting, an alarm system, or even a sign posted announcing that no valuables are left unsecured during non-business hours may also prevent the cost of repairs associated with this type of crime.
For additional suggestions regarding home or business security please contact the Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit at (727) 582-5611.