Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Public safety

Tampa police: Man uses screwdriver to burgle cars at Busch Gardens

TAMPA — While thrill-seekers enjoyed Busch Garden's rides and attractions Saturday, police say a man broke into several cars in the theme park's parking lot.

A Busch Gardens security officer spotted the man wandering through the lot around 2:45 p.m., according to an arrest affidavit. The security officer saw the man pull on car door handles, getting into one vehicle for a short time before closing the door again.

The security officer called Tampa police, who say they found the man carrying a flat-head screwdriver and extendable baton. A navigation system in the man's car showed he had driven through the Busch Gardens lot before parking in a neighboring lot, the affidavit said.

Seven car burglaries were reported there Saturday. In all of the incidents, the driver's side door locks had been "punched" with a flat-head screwdriver to gain access, the affidavit said.

Police say the suspect also broke into three cars a week before, on May 5. The burglaries similarly involved driver's side locks punched with a screwdriver, according to a second arrest affidavit. More than $3,000 worth of property had been stolen.

In one of the car thefts from last week, a car owner reported a stolen pair of Bose headphones. On Saturday, police searched the suspect's vehicle and found Bose headphones matching the serial number of the stolen pair, the affidavit said.

The suspect denied involvement in both sets of burglaries, the affidavits said, but he could not explain what he was doing Saturday in the Busch Gardens parking lot.

Police identified the suspect as Angel Denny Mercado Vazquez, 35, of Fort Myers. The affidavits list him as an unemployed laborer. He faces seven charges of armed burglary in addition to charges of possessing burglary tools and carrying a concealed weapons. Mercado Vazquez was also charged with grand theft and three counts of burglary in connection with the May 5 incidents.

He remained Sunday in the Hillsborough County Jail on $115,500 bail.

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