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Clearwater Beach thieves nabbed, police say

CLEARWATER — Jeramiah Putbrese, Jessica Putbrese and Ladonn Hoke.

These are the names involved in a threesome accused of stealing $10,000 in unattended valuables from blankets on Clearwater Beach.

In legal terms, it's 11 counts of grand theft. In common parlance, it's a violation of the beachgoer's code.

From time immemorial, swimmers have faced the same dilemma: life's quotidian accessories make it to the beach — keys, wallets, (and now) cell phones — but can't go in the water.

Maybe you pitch a blanket, toss your clothes in a heap, or put your wallet in a shoe.

Anyone could swipe these items as you play in the water, your rational lobe says, but somehow that never happens — that's the whole point of the code.

But according to police, this threesome broke the decorum of the beach. On Monday, between 500 Mandalay Ave. and 400 S Gulfview Blvd., a number of victims left their wallets, cell phones and jewelry on their blankets while they went in the water.

When they returned, the items were stolen. People reported the thefts to police and a Clearwater police lieutenant in the area spotted two men running toward a woman in a vehicle. There seemed to be something hidden in their beach towels, police said, but the lieutenant wasn't able to catch up to them.

He took down a partial license number and a description of the vehicle.

On Tuesday, police spotted the vehicle at the beach and later made a traffic stop.

As officers stopped the threesome, two more victims came forward to report additional thefts, police said. Their belongings were found inside the vehicle, police say, and more stolen property was recovered at their home at 1401 Pine St. in Clearwater.

Jessica Putbrese, 29, now faces five counts of grand theft, and two vehicle related misdemeanors. She is being held in the jail in lieu of $25,500 bail.

Jeramiah Putbrese, 29, faces two counts of grand theft. Ladonn Hoke, 21, faces four. They were both released on their own recognizance.

Police said it was a good reminder for people to guard their valuables. Since June, police said, there have been roughly 30 thefts at Clearwater Beach.

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.

Clearwater Beach thieves nabbed, police say 08/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 7, 2008 3:15pm]
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