Every year, as spring and summer approach, the Sheriff’s Office begins to see more crimes related to boats, boating and fishing. Recently, detective units county-wide have seen an uptick in the theft of various types of fishing equipment – particularly rods and reels.
Since February, there have been approximately 30 reports county-wide of fishing equipment stolen. Most of the stolen equipment has been rods and reels, with some dive equipment and one small outboard motor. In virtually all these cases, the thefts have been easily preventable. The items have virtually all been unsecured, either easily accessible on board a boat, stored underneath a home outside, or in an unlocked downstairs enclosure.
Thefts that have occurred in close geographic areas may or may not be connected. Many of the cases have similarities with others or are very close in time and place to each other. Detectives do not believe, however, that this is an organized “ring” of thieves.
“I think we have a few here and a few there being committed by the same people,” said Sheriff Rick Ramsay. “Do I think they are all connected county-wide? No, I don’t,” he said. “We are working hard on these cases. We could use citizens’ help both when it comes to preventing these crimes and when it comes to solving them.”
These crimes are most likely crimes of opportunity, detectives say. Someone just decides to go door to door in a neighborhood looking for things of value to steal. It just so happens we are a marine centered community and many times the things they find to steal that are easily accessible include rods, reels and other fishing equipment.
- In the Lower Keys, there have been eight such thefts between Cudjoe Key and Big Coppitt Key; four on Cudjoe, two on Sugarloaf and one each on Summerland Key and Big Coppitt Key. In four of those cases, property has been recovered and returned to the owner.
- In the Middle Keys there have been nine cases, three in Duck Key, three in Layton and three on Conch Key.
- In the Upper Keys, there have been 13 cases, seven in Islamorada and six in Key Largo.
Fortunately, there are steps everyone can take to avoid becoming a victim of this type of crime. Do not leave your equipment unsecured. Take your rods and reels off your boat at the end of a fishing trip. Make sure these valuable items are locked up securely.
There are also things you can do to help with our investigation of such crimes. First of all, you should be aware of suspicious vehicles, vessels or people in your neighborhood and shouldn’t hesitate to call the Sheriff’s Office if you see something suspicious. In addition, make sure you document any valuables you own. Take photographs and record serial numbers. If possible, engrave items with your driver’s license number or mark them with some kind of identifying mark you will remember. This will help us when and if we recover property to sort out who it belongs to and return the property to the rightful owner.
If you hear about anyone trying to sell rods and reels or fishing equipment, call the Sheriff’s Office right away. Anyone with information about this type of crime should contact the Sheriff’s Office. Callers may also contact Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys. Tipsters can remain anonymous and, if a tip leads to an arrest in the case, the caller would be eligible for a cash reward. The Crime Stoppers hot line number is 1-800-346-TIPS. Tips may also be submitted on line at www.tipsubmit.com.
A Big Pine Key man and a Cudjoe Key man have been arrested in connection with recent rod and reel thefts in the Lower Keys.
On April 13 at 6 a.m., deputies were called to a home on Cudjoe Key. 33 year old John Farley said he’d just seen someone take rods and reels from underneath his home on Cutlass Drive. He gave dispatchers a description of the car the man fled in, along with a license tag number. Just minutes later, the car was stopped by Deputy Linda Kohout. The driver was identified as 32 year old Joshua Causey. In the car, deputies found 11 rod and reel combinations, along with a radio controlled boat motor.
Farley identified Causey as the man he saw stealing his rods and reels. He identified six of the rods and reels as his along with the boat motor. The property was returned to him. He said he did not want to press charges against Causey. The other items in the car were taken by the deputies for further investigation. At the time of the traffic stop, Causey told deputies he and Farley were friends. He said he’d been at Farley’s house and they’d argued. He said Farley told him to take the fishing equipment and to leave. He said Farley must have called the Sheriff’s Office after he left. Due to conflicting stories, Causey was not arrested and the case was assigned to detectives.
The case began to get more complicated after three more reports of rod and reel thefts came in over the next two days. A man on Big Coppitt Key, a man on Summerland Key and a man on Sugarloaf Key all reported their fishing equipment stolen; two of from storage areas under their residences and one from a porch area where they had been propped up to dry. Detectives from the Lower Keys Criminal Investigative Unit were assigned to all the cases and began to unravel the details.
Some of the rods and reels reported stolen from the other residences turned out to be the ones seized in the traffic stop. Some of the stolen rods and reels turned out to be ones returned to Farley after he identified them as his. Some of the stolen rods and reels turned up at Farley’s house when detectives went to talk to him as they investigated.
Both men were arrested last Thursday. Causey was charged with two counts of grand theft in connection with the crimes in Summerland Key and Sugarloaf Key. Farley was charged with two counts of grand theft in connection with the crimes on Big Coppitt Key and on Sugarloaf Key. Investigations are continuing.
A Sugarloaf Key man is in jail charged with having sexual relations with a young girl.
The victim’s mother came home on April d and found 32 year old Emanuel Llama naked in her 13 year old daughter’s bedroom. A confrontation ensued and Llama left her house.
At that point, the victim confided to her mother and to a friend that 32 year old Emanuel Llama forced her to have sexual relations with him on numerous occasions between July of 2012 and now. She said he also forced her to watch pornographic movies with him.
Major Crimes Detective Lissette Zuelch obtained a warrant for Llama’s arrest after investigating the case. On Wednesday, Llama was charged with lewd and lascivious behavior with a victim between the ages of 12 and 16 and lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim between the ages of 12 and 16.
A caller to the Big Pine Key CVS pharmacy threatened to blow the store up last Wednesday.
A man called the business at 7 p.m. and told the clerk who answered the phone to fill a Green Dot card with $500 or he would blow up the store. The clerk handed the phone to a co-worker and the man repeated his threats to her. The two hung up the phone and called the Sheriff’s Office.
They told Deputy Kendall Bailey they think the caller intended to have them load the card with $500 and then give him the number off the back so he could use the money.
The two employees handled the situation properly, according to Sheriff Rick Ramsay.
“This call threatening to blow up the store is a bit extreme, but there are many scams around that are similar. Generally someone is trying to force you to send them money quickly so you don’t have time to think about it,” he said. “If someone calls and tells you to do something and it just doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t. Take the time to check it out – call us and we will help you find out if the situation is a scam or not.”
Some other examples of scams being reported locally:
Some businesses are currently getting calls from people claiming to be from utility companies, threatening to turn off electricity if they don’t pay their bills using green dot money cards or other types of prepaid cards. Oftentimes, they are using phone “spoofing” technology so it appears the call is coming from the utility company.
A person will get a phone call about a friend or family member who is in trouble. That friend or family member needs money quickly to get out of whatever trouble they are in. Typically, the scammer asks for you to go to the store and get green dot prepaid card and give them the number on the card; they may also ask that a money order be wired to a certain location.
A Miami man was arrested Sunday after surveillance video in a parking lot helped to identify him as the suspect in two vehicle burglaries.
Deputies Chuck Kellenberger and Rosary Ponce responded to a vehicle burglary at 4 p.m. at Island Fish Company in Marathon. When they arrived they met with the victim, who said someone smashed the window of his car and stole his Ipad Mini from inside. He said it happened between 3:40 p.m. when he’d parked and 4 p.m. when he discovered the crime. He described a distinctive image on the lock screen of the Ipad as a way to identify it. A second burglary was also discovered by deputies who were checking the parking lot and found it’s window smashed. The car’s owner was found inside the business and she confirmed her wallet had been stolen..
Surveillance video of the parking lot showed a Dodge Charger pull up beside the first vehicle. It showed a man later identified as 40 year old Nelson Gonzalez of Miami beside the vehicle walking around it. A second person was in the car with him. A notice to be on the lookout for the charger was issued, along with a description of the suspect.
Key Colony Beach Police Officer Colleen Gonzalez was dispatched to a disabled vehicle across the street from KCB City Hall a short time later. She found a red Charger with a flat tire. A woman was with the car. She said her boyfriend was getting a new tire for the car. Officer Gonzalez notified the deputies about the car and they responded to the scene.
When the boyfriend returned, he fit the description of the suspect in the vehicle burglaries. An Ipad Mini was found underneath the driver’s seat of the Charger. The lock screen image identified it as the one stolen in the first vehicle burglary. Gonzalez then admitted he’d burglarized the two vehicles. He assisted deputies in recovering items stolen in the second burglary as well.
Gonzalez was arrested. He was charged with two counts each of vehicle burglary and grand theft. He was booked into jail.
A disturbed man who pointed what looked like a real firearm at a Sheriff’s sergeant last Friday was almost shot. He later told deputies he was “protecting 110th street from drug dealers and prostitutes.”
Sgt. Dennis Coleman was on patrol on Highway U.S. One at 12:45 p.m. near Marathon City Hall when he saw 44 year old Wayne Michaelson waving a handgun around. He pulled up behind Michaelson and, with his own firearm at the ready, told him to put down the gun. Michaelson did lay down on the ground, but he kept the gun and a plastic bag at his side. As the sergeant continued to give him orders, Michaelson brought the firearm in front of him and pointed it at Sgt. Coleman. At that point, Sgt. Coleman said he began to put pressure on the trigger of his gun in preparation to shoot Michaelson. Suddenly, Michaelson put the gun down, placing it in the plastic bag and saving his own life.
Other officers arrived as back-up and Michaelson was taken into custody. Michaelson told Deputy Vince Weiner he’d just purchased what turned out to be an airsoft pistol to “protect 110th Street from prostitutes and drug dealers”. He also said he felt threatened by passing cars when the “passed him at 55-60 miles an hour and made noises.”
Michaelson was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest with violence. He was taken to jail.
A 77 year old Marathon man was working on his vehicle at his home on Avenue H, Coco Plum Road in Marathon when it fell on him, killing him on Tuesday morning.
Manuel Perez reportedly used a forklift to pick up his truck. He was underneath it working on it when it somehow slipped off the forklift, falling on top of him.
Family members found him and called for help. They used the forklift to lift the truck off Perez and began performing CPR. He was transported to Fishermen’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Detectives are asking the community for help identifying a couple of subjects who burglarized the Boys and Girls Club in Key West.
According to detectives, at least two individuals broke into a locked gate at the facility at the historic Glynn Archer School on United Street, early Thursday morning.
The burglars stole six computers, a game system, a lock box, a combination safe and an undisclosed amount of cash.
Witnesses said they observed two Hispanic males with an average build around the facility at the time. They may have been driving an older model, faded light blue pickup truck.
Anyone with any information regarding this burglary is asked to please call detectives at 305-809-1015. Tips can be made anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys at 1-800-TIPS or on line at http://www.tipsubmit.com.
A Marathon man was arrested for abusing his dog Saturday.
Deputies responded to Winn Dixie shopping center in Marathon to reports a witness had seen a man yanking a dog by a chain and kicking the dog in the face. The man was described as wearing a white tank top and camouflage pants and his vehicle was an RV parked near McDonalds.
When Deputies Chuck Kellenberger and Rosary Ponce arrived at 11 a.m., they saw a man fitting the description with a chain hooked to the bumper of his RV. The man – identified later as 32 year old Anthony Wollweber – was trying to hook the other end of the chain to a dog’s collar. The dog – a 10 month old brown pit bull – was clearly afraid of Wollweber. It was laying on its belly, tail tucked under, cringing away from him.
The witness was still on scene and she told deputies she saw Wollweber dragging the dog by a chain and kicking the dog in the face.
Wollweber told deputies he woke up to find the dog had ingested seawater and had vomited and was covered in feces. He said he’d taken the dog to a nearby convenience store and hosed the dog off. He said the dog was normally cooperative, but wasn’t today so he admitted to kicking the dog “but not hard”.
Animal Control was called to the scene and took custody of the dog. Wollweber was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals and was booked into jail.
A search warrant was served Thursday evening at a Marathon residence.
Detectives from the Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Unit served the warrant at 600 51st Street, Apartment-#4, in Marathon. The residence was under the control of 23 year old Javier Porter-Fleming.
The search of the residence turned up 54 grams of Marijuana, 20 grams of powder Cocaine, 15 Oxycodone pills and drug paraphernalia. Porter-Fleming was charged with possession of Marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of Cocaine with intent to distribute, trafficking in opium and possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was booked into the Marathon Key jail.