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Alt. U.S. 19 a target for burglaries

By ELENA LESLEY
Published April 21, 2007


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TARPON SPRINGS - Alan Fernandez's produce stand has been burglarized three times in the past month.

Smashing windows - and even the front door - the culprit or culprits have smuggled out a $400 bag of shrimp, mahi mahi, grapes and the cash register drawer.

"It hurts," Fernandez said. "If this keeps up, it's going to run me out of business."

Fernandez isn't the only business owner hurting. There have been 18 burglaries mainly along Alt. U.S. 19 in the last month, many of which appear to be related, said Sgt. Barbara Templeton, spokeswoman for the Tarpon Springs Police Department.

Two burglaries Wednesday night on U.S. 19 also could be part of the same spree, she said.

In most cases, telephone lines have been cut - in an attempt to disable alarm systems - and windows smashed for entry.

"They seem to be targeting cash, food and cigarettes," Templeton said. She said there were two brands of cigarettes routinely stolen, but she could not identify which ones.

"Detectives are working day and night" to make an arrest, she said, urging people to call the Police Department if they see anything suspicious.

Business owners including Fernandez hope police move quickly.

He just shelled out $550 for an alarm system, and doesn't want to have to replace any more doors, windows - or bags of shrimp.

"I'm really upset," he said. "I'm like everyone else - I work hard for my money and I shouldn't have it taken from me."

Elena Lesley can be reached at elesley@sptimes.com or 727-445-4167.

[Last modified April 20, 2007, 22:49:33]


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