Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

One arrested in string of Pasco school burglaries

NEW PORT RICHEY — Deputies say they have cracked the first case in a string of burglaries at Pasco County schools. On Monday they arrested 19-year-old Alexis Rafeal Ortiz, who is accused of breaking into Ridgewood High School with accomplices on Feb. 27 and stealing 37 iPods, 34 Apple laptops and one iPad.

The cost of that heist alone: $70,650.

It's one of 13 Pasco school burglaries since October.

The first burglary was at Chasco Elementary. Since then, Calusa Elementary, Chasco Middle and Ridgewood High have all been burglarized, some of them multiple times, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said. Detectives think the break-ins are connected: The burglars used similar methods each time, though authorities declined to elaborate on what those were.

In the Feb. 27 burglary, the report states, Ortiz and three others hopped a fence onto campus and smashed out first- and second-story windows to get inside classrooms.

After detectives received an anonymous tip, a deputy stopped Ortiz in traffic Monday and found him with seven computers and four iPods, all stolen, the report states. They searched his house, too, and found two more laptops, one that was identified as being from Ridgewood High.

He was arrested on a charge of burglary and taken to the Land O'Lakes jail, where he remained Tuesday afternoon in lieu of $30,000 bail. Detectives are still investigating to find more suspects and ties to the other burglaries.

Sheriff Chris Nocco called a press conference Tuesday to ask for the public's help in solving the other cases.

In all, the burglaries made for a loss of $172,875 for the Pasco school district, taxpayer spending that wasn't insured, sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said. Teachers who used the technology have had to revamp their lesson plans to move forward without those teaching tools.

Tobin said burglary suspects usually sell the stolen loot for money. And anyone caught having bought one of the stolen laptops or iPods could also face charges, depending on how much they knew about the burglaries. Authorities are encouraging people to come forward with the goods now.

"It's better that you turn yourselves in rather than have us come knock on your door," Nocco said.

Tobin also urged parents to keep watch on their children's new gadgets.

"If they have a computer that you didn't pay for," Tobin said, "please contact the Sheriff's Office."

One arrested in string of Pasco school burglaries 03/19/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 6:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger

    Blogs

    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season

    College

    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium

    Blogs

    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH

    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company

    College

    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.