Burglars rifle vehicles at 10 Lexington Oaks homes

Published April 18, 2007

LAND O'LAKES - The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is investigating the burglary of vehicles from at least 10 households in the Lexington Oaks golf course community early Monday.

One victim is a sheriff's deputy.

Hours after the break-ins, two people were caught on tape using a credit card stolen from a car to buy clothes at a Zephyrhills Wal-Mart, said sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin.

Detectives are trying to identify the men, described as two men in their 20s to early 30s. The first is slender, and wore a dark hat with sunglasses perched on it, a black sweater, jeans and sneakers. The second man is heavier, and was wearing a camouflage hat with sunglasses on it, and jeans.

Items stolen from the trunk of the deputy's car include an undisclosed number of weapons, ammunition and law enforcement equipment.

Residents seemed shocked.

"It's private and really nice around here," said Russell Harrison, a 22-year-old student at the Art Institute of Tampa, whose wallet, credit cards and laptop were stolen. "It seemed safe up until that episode."

Many of the cars were left unlocked, Tobin said. It was not clear, he said, how the men gained access to the deputy's trunk.

Richard Wilson, a 32-year-old who works in construction and had some tools stolen, said he left his car door unlocked.

"You have to make sure you lock your doors," he said. "It was one of those times where I didn't lock one and they found it."

The break-ins were within several blocks of each other. Three were on Risen Star Drive, three on Middleground Loop, one on Spectacular Bid Drive, one on Tim Tam Place, and one on Decidely Court.

Other victims lost items that ranged from checkbooks and sunglasses to digital cameras, GPS devices and loose change.

Anyone with information about the crimes was asked to contact Detective Thomas Dougherty toll-free at 1-800-854-2862, ext. 5045.

Gina Pace can be reached at 352 521-6518 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6518. Her e-mail address is gpace@sptimes.com.