Six west Pasco businesses were hit by smash and grab burglaries early Tuesday morning, bringing the total of such crimes to 18 since July 1, authorities said.
"It was terrible," said Kevin Murphy, 54, manager of Hudson Tire Center at 11525 State Road 52. His business was the first hit; its glass door smashed about 12:45 a.m.
The rampage of break-ins lasted less than two hours.
Other businesses hit were:
• Subway, 11332 Ridge Road, New Port Richey;
• Western Auto Home & Garden Center, 7101 State Road 52, Hudson;
• Mike's Automotive Center, 9109 State Road 52, Hudson;
•Twisted Metal Auto Collision, 8939 U.S. 19, Port Richey;
• Mancini Automotive, 8128 Old County Road 54, New Port Richey.
The stores were looted of any cash inside, and at Twisted Metal, a computer was stolen.
Murphy said his business was burglarized two years ago in a similar manner. That time, the petty cash in the register was stolen.
He learned not to keep money in the store at night and to leave to register open to discourage robbers.
He said that this time the office was ransacked but nothing was taken because there was nothing to steal.
Still, replacing the door will be at least $300, Murphy said.
"Hopefully they'll get these guys," he said.
Sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin called these crimes "brave and bold."
The method is simple: Shatter a window, run inside with the alarm blaring, grab whatever goods or money found and get out within seconds.
Three juveniles were recently arrested and accused of breaking into a dozen businesses and stealing thousands of dollars worth of cigarettes, lottery tickets and petty cash.
Authorities say two other suspects are still at large: James Keith Hudson, 45, and Michael C. O'Neill, 26.
Hudson is the father of one of the juvenile suspects, 17-year-old Cody James Hudson, who turned himself in to authorities Sunday and faces three charges of business burglary.
Tobin said detectives are working to find out if Tuesday morning's crimes are related to the previous burglaries.
"There's a pretty good chance these are related," he said.
He said the Sheriff's Office is working with other are law enforcement agencies to "crack down on those involved."
Tobin asked anyone with information about the crimes or the whereabouts of O'Neill or James Keith Hudson to call the Sheriff's Office at (727) 844-7711.
The toll-free crime tips line is 1-800-706-2488. Information can be left anonymously.
Erin Sullivan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6229.