Hillsborough deputies arrest 3 men suspected in FishHawk Ranch car burglaries
Toward the end of May about 40-60 cars in the FishHawk Ranch area of Tampa were burglarized. Specifically, May 23 through May 26 was when the alleged crimes were committed according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO). HCSO officials classify these burglaries as “car hopping.” “Car hopping” occurs when an individual goes around and attempts to open each car in a parking lot by just checking the handle to see if the owner forgot to lock the car. Once an unlocked car is found, the burglar helps himself/herself to whatever they can get their hands on. Breaking into 40-60 cars in this manner may seem somewhat harmless when compared to burglaries where windows are smashed or locks are popped, but crimes such as “car hopping” still carry harsh penalties if convicted.
On May 25, HCSO arrested three men in connection with these “car hopping” burglaries. One man was located and arrested because he pawned a GPS unit that was reported as stolen from one of the cars.
These three men now face several felony and misdemeanor offenses. Not mentioned in the news release was how these suspects were identified. In addition to forensic analysis (ie. dusting for fingerprints) of the burglarized vehicles, law enforcement frequently searches pawn shop databases to determine if any of the stolen property (like a GPS unit) was pawned for money. If law enforcement determines that the stolen property was pawned within a few hours or even a few days from the time of the burglary, then they can charge the person who pawned the property with committing the burglary where the property was originally stolen. Under Florida law, this theory of prosecution is called “unexplained possession of recently stolen property.”
If you or someone you know is being charged with burglary, grand theft, or dealing in stolen property, contact an experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney to discuss your/their rights and any possible defenses you/they may have.