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Note to car burglar: Smile, you're on candid camera

Someone has broken into three vehicles in the same Snell Isle driveway. The last time, he is captured on video.

By CASEY CORA
Published September 10, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - Couldn't have been more than 6 feet from the camera.

That's how lawyer Stan Morse described the suspect who was captured on security cameras while breaking into his black 2005 Cadillac Escalade at his Snell Isle home.

He installed the cameras after two other vehicles in the driveway of his home at 8 Brightwaters Circle NE were broken into.

Both times, a thief took items without leaving a scratch, suggesting a professional job.

Detectives think it's the same guy who previously struck at the Morse home and two others in the affluent neighborhood, said police spokesman George Kajtsa.

Whoever it was this time, he "appeared very cool and calm," Kajtsa said.

At 2:45 a.m. Tuesday, a white man whom police describe as 20 to 25 years old with a stocky build and thinning hair drove up the street in a small SUV.

He parked, got out and approached Morse's driveway with a prying tool and a long flashlight.

The thief then peered into his wife's Infinity sedan and their 16-year-old son's Ford Mustang.

But the real score was inside the Escalade. And the thief wasn't as careful as the last two times.

The burglar wedged a prying tool in the window, popped it up and smashed the glass. He raked away the tiny shards with black gloves and dived waist deep into the passenger window, grabbing a Palm Trio 700, a pair of Ray-Bans, a radar detector and a plug-in powering device.

It was over in about a minute.

Morse estimated his loss at $1,000.

An officer came to the home Wednesday. Morse showed him the tape.

"We started laughing," he said of the thief's technique. "It looks like one of those TV shows."

As many as 15 auto break-ins have occurred in Snell Isle in recent months.

"They know where the money is," Morse said. "If we locate him, he's dead to rights."

Police encourage drivers to lock doors and hide valuables any time they leave their vehicles - even in driveways with security cameras.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Detective Lisa Eron at 727 551-3051 or the St. Petersburg police communications center at (727) 893-7780.

Casey Cora can be reached at (727) 580-1542 or at ccora@sptimes.com.