Sunday, September 23, 2018
Public safety

Suspects fished from Pasco pond may be connected to other smash-and-grab burglaries (w/video)

Three men who fled the scene of a crash and attempted to hide in a pond on Monday were responsible for breaking into a car and stealing a purse at a day-care center hours earlier, according to Pasco County deputies.

All three, from Fort Lauderdale, were arrested after deputies found them in a pond in Land O' Lakes.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said the men — Willie Cuyler, 24; Darius Deon Henry, 24; and Cecil Deon Ruffin, 25 — may be part of a bigger ring that is connected to other recent vehicle smash-and-grabs in the area.

Around 9 a.m., deputies responded to a hit-and-run crash on Collier Parkway after the suspects fled the scene on foot south toward State Road 54.

The men — who deputies say are suspected of stealing the purse from the Discovery Point day-care center off Livingston Road in Lutz earlier that morning — were in a Toyota rental vehicle with a stolen tag when they were involved in a crash with a bus.

They fled on foot but returned quickly to retrieve the tag and the stolen purse from the vehicle, deputies said.

After setting up a perimeter, deputies say they chased Henry and Ruffin into a large pond and detained them.

Cuyler was still in the pond. Body cam footage shows deputies locating him in the swamp and pulling him out.

At the news conference, Nocco connected Monday's incident to other recent vehicle smash-and-grabs in the area. He said the men are part of the "Felony Lane Gang," a nationwide criminal organization that usually involves suspects traveling from city to city to break into cars.

"They're from South Florida, or they can be from the Orlando area, and they travel around the state and commit crimes," Nocco said.

Last week,three suspects from South Florida were arrested after deputies say they are responsible for several smash-and-grab vehicle burglaries at day-care centers and schools in Pinellas and Pasco counties.

"We've been getting hit by these 'Felony Lanes' of people coming into our county," Nocco said. "They're hitting places off the interstate –– gyms, doctors offices, day-care centers."

Nocco urged residents to lock their car doors and hide valuable items that they may keep in their vehicles.

"Don't be an easy target. Don't make it easy for them," he said.

All the men in Monday's incident had previous charges for burglary, deputies said.

They are each being held at the Pasco County Jail with bail set at more than $10,000. They face charges including burglary, resisting arrest and vehicle hit-and-run.

Contact Samantha Putterman at [email protected] Follow @samputterman.

   
Comments
Stolen smokes: Florida man gets 20 years for cigarette theft

Stolen smokes: Florida man gets 20 years for cigarette theft

PENSACOLA, Fla. — A Florida man who stole $600 worth of cigarettes from a convenience store has been sentenced to 20 years in state prison.A jury in Pensacola convicted 48-year-old Robert Spellman of burglary and grand theft in August. Authori...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Deputies: Driver kills Brandon cyclist, 73, in hit-and-run

Deputies: Driver kills Brandon cyclist, 73, in hit-and-run

BRANDON — A cyclist died in what authorities said is a hit-and-run crash, according to the Hillsborough County Sherrif’s Office.John Dilgard, 73, was riding a mountain bike southbound on Kings Avenue S about 12:42 a.m., the agency reported.A vehicle ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Police: Car runs red light, killing woman on motor scooter in St. Petersburg

Police: Car runs red light, killing woman on motor scooter in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — A woman died after a driver ran a red light on 5th Avenue N and hit her motor scooter early Sunday morning, police reported.Vallis Ann Oswain, 58, was driving the scooter northbound on 8th Street N about 2:22 a.m. She also carried a ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Vehicle crashes into Tampa Havoline Xpress Lube, sets building ablaze, fire officials report

Vehicle crashes into Tampa Havoline Xpress Lube, sets building ablaze, fire officials report

TAMPA — A vehicle crashed into a Havoline Xpress Lube early Saturday morning, sparking flames that engulfed the structure, fire officials reported.According to Tampa Fire Rescue, multiple people called 911 about 2:40 a.m, reporting the fire on the 50...
Updated: 4 hours ago
A Las Vegas professor shot himself on his campus to protest Trump, police say

A Las Vegas professor shot himself on his campus to protest Trump, police say

Before pulling the trigger, the professor was thoughtful.Mark J. Bird had been at the College of Southern Nevada for more than two decades in the department of human behavior. He had a feel for the rhythms of the school day, the timetables of when st...
Published: 09/23/18
Tarpon Springs woman hit and killed as she pushes stroller along U.S. 19, police say

Tarpon Springs woman hit and killed as she pushes stroller along U.S. 19, police say

TARPON SPRINGS — A 27-year-old Tarpon Springs woman died Saturday after she was struck by a car as she walked along U.S. 19 pushing a stroller with a 2-year-old in it while two 6-year-olds walked beside her, police said.Tymira Latrel Leverson and the...
Published: 09/22/18
Decomposed body found in woods in Wesley Chapel

Decomposed body found in woods in Wesley Chapel

WESLEY CHAPEL — Someone walking in the woods near Beardsley Drive and Broughton Place found a decomposed body about 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Pasco County sheriff’s officials said.Sheriff’s investigators said they have not determined if foul play was invo...
Published: 09/22/18
Pinellas Park man killed in rollover crash near Feather Sound

Pinellas Park man killed in rollover crash near Feather Sound

ST. PETERSBURG — A 47-year-old Pinellas Park man died Friday night after his pickup truck veered into oncoming traffic, rolled over and ejected him, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Troopers said the crash took place at 7:15 p.m. at Feather So...
Published: 09/22/18
FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

FHP: He stopped to help — then another driver killed him and stole his car

ST. PETERSBURG — An act of kindness ended tragically when the body of a missing motorist was found Friday more than 15 hours after he pulled over on the side of Interstate 275 to assist another driver.Dhimitri Andoni, 22, of Clearwater was driving no...
Published: 09/21/18
Updated: 09/22/18
Fatal Friday night crash closes lanes on Ulmerton Road

Fatal Friday night crash closes lanes on Ulmerton Road

ST. PETERSBURG — A fatal traffic crash occurred at about 7:15 p.m. Friday at the intersection of Ulmerton Road and Carillon Parkway, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.The crash closed all westbound lanes of Ulmerton Road.No additional informati...
Published: 09/21/18