TAMPA — They stalked the New Tampa neighborhood, going door to door to at least nine homes looking for one that wasn't locked.
Eventually, police said, the burglars found their mark – a home on Timberland Point in Tampa Palms with an unlocked sliding door. They slipped inside, making off with children's DVDs, a Nintendo video game system, flat-screen TV, credit cards and a Honda minivan as the victims slept.
The crime seemed particularly brazen. One of the suspects later told police they'd targeted the neighborhood because he figured residents felt safe enough to leave their doors unlocked, said Tampa police Detective Jeff McGrath.
"You don't typically hear of a lot of burglaries when people are sleeping," McGrath said.
Following tips from Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay, police arrested James Wilson Maymi, 29, and Yesenia M. Sanchez, 22. Still being sought is Luis R. Rivera, 19.
Surveillance video from several Tampa stores showed Sanchez and Rivera using the stolen credit cards on a shopping spree for items that included children's clothing, McGrath said. One of the videos shows Sanchez shopping with her 4-year-old daughter, who is now staying with other family members.
Maymi, who police said admitted to committing the burglary alone, faces a felony burglary charge, nine counts of attempted burglary, grand theft and grand theft of an automobile. The minivan has since been recovered.
Maymi was never seen on the store videos. McGrath said they tracked him down after a tipster mentioned his name and detectives quickly learned he had a child with Sanchez.
Sanchez's charges include six counts of criminal use of personal identification. Police said Rivera will face the same charges as Sanchez. An arrest warrant has been issued.
Maymi and Sanchez were taken to the Hillsborough County Jail on $79,000 and $12,000 bail, respectively.
A warrant was issued for Rivera's arrest.
The case, McGrath said, offers a good lesson about personal protection. "Man, if you have a lock on your door, use it."