More homes burglarized

OKEECHOBEE — Daring daylight thieves stuck again Friday, Nov. 18, when they broke into a couple of U.S. 441 S.E. homes and made off with cash, computers and jewelry totaling over $6,000.

Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) reports by Deputy Brant Harden stated that in both cases the front doors of the two homes were locked, but forced open. This is the same method of operation used by burglars in as many as over 100 burglary cases since June.

It’s not yet known if all of the burglaries have been committed by the same person or persons.

“There are many similarities,” said OCSO Detective Lieutenant Brad Stark on Monday, Nov. 21.

He went on to point out the latest break-ins were perpetrated on homes near the Okeechobee-Martin county line.

In Friday’s first burglary, Deputy Harden stated the homeowner left his home around 6 a.m. and when he returned at 4:10 p.m., he found his front door open. The victim did not go into the home, but immediately contacted the sheriff’s office.

The residence, noted the report, sits back away from U.S. 441 S.E. and is bordered along the back of the property by the Rim Canal. Although the property is fenced, the homeowner apparently leaves the gate at the back of the property open.

“The front door to the residence had an indention that seemed to be made by a narrow object about 1-inch wide and about 10-inches long,” stated Deputy Harden. “The force the tool put on the door was enough to push the bottom lock through the door frame.”

Once inside the home the intruder, or intruders, helped themselves to: about $400 in cash; two computers valued at a total of $1,000; a .25 caliber automatic handgun; a fabric holster; a watch; and, an estimated $1,200 in women’s jewelry.

In all, Deputy Harden stated the cash and items taken from this home totaled $6,250.

The deputy also pointed out the .25 caliber automatic was taken from the homeowner’s bedroom where there were also a number of rifles and a shotgun. However, none of those long guns were disturbed.

“The bedroom’s bathroom door was shut with the owner’s dog inside,” stated Deputy Harden. “The only point of entry was the front door. None of the neighbors were home at the time of the burglary.”

A second home — located only a few blocks from the first residence — was also targeted by thieves sometime Friday. And, like the first home, entry was made by forcing open the front door.

When the 64-year-old homeowner returned home from work around 4:49 p.m. he entered his home through the garage. Once inside he saw where someone had gone through his desk in the living room and scattered papers about the room.

Upon seeing the messy living room, the homeowner contacted the sheriff’s office and Deputy Brant handled the call.

The front door of the home swings out, noted the deputy, and was pried open “… at the door frame, over the locks.”

Deputy Brant noted that a $150 ring was stolen, along with a Kindle Fire tablet that was valued at $100. A $100 Invicta watch was taken from the victim’s bedroom.

“All the rooms in the residence were disturbed, but only the three items listed were taken,” stated Deputy Harden.

Both burglaries occurred between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m.

OCSO reports indicate in other similar burglaries the thieves have taken electronics (computers, televisions, etc.), jewelry, generators, guns and cash.

And, like the two most recent cases, all of the prior break-ins were perpetrated during daylight hours.

“It seems like we’re having these every day,” said Michele Bell, OCSO public information officer.

If you see a strange vehicle driving around in your neighborhood or pulling into a driveway, call the sheriff’s office.

“If you see something, call a deputy. We’d rather have a call that turns out to be nothing, than no call,” offered Mrs. Bell.

Besides having surveillance video around your home, documenting the serial numbers on electronics, guns and such can be a big help to investigators.

The Nov. 18 break-ins have been assigned to Detective Corporal Ted Van Deman.

If you see something suspicious, call the sheriff’s office at 863-763-3117.

Eric Kopp is a staff writer for the Okeechobee News

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