It wasn't so much the number of crimes _ at least 22 burglaries, thefts and forgery incidents from July through December of last year _ that shocked Pasco County sheriff's detectives as they closed in on a burglary ring operating in the Hudson area. It wasn't the amount of property and money stolen, at least $20,000, and it wasn't the size of the ring, nine people ranging from 16 to 34 years old, seven of whom have been arrested.
What shocked detectives Stephen Madden and Brad Kokoris was what they described as insensitive crimes:
The October burglary of the home of a deaf elderly couple in which a special television caption machine and telephone communicating device were stolen.
The theft in October of computer discs during a burglary at a Hudson recreational vehicle sales business _ discs that held all the company's records and were discarded by the burglars.
The continued burglaries of car keys and titles from a Hudson used-car dealership, items that cost so much to replace that Madden said the owner of the dealership was forced to get out of the used-car business.
The destruction of items the ring stole that didn't work or weren't needed.
"I'm just outraged about stuff like that," Madden said. "This is the first time in an awful long time we've run into a close-knit group running an organized scheme for such a long time with such disastrous results."
Detectives still are seeking two of the suspects, who they think have fled to Kentucky. The other seven were arrested earlier this month, and Madden and Kokoris have continued to add charges. As of Wednesday, the detectives had filed 168 charges against the seven people already arrested.
In addition to the burglaries and thefts, the ring also passed forged checks at banks around Pasco County, Madden said. The thieves received at least $10,000 from checks they stole from businesses over a weekend, then forged and cashed on Monday mornings before the businesses even knew about the burglaries.
The ring focused on recreational-vehicle and mobile-home dealerships because those businesses often do not have alarm systems and usually have large amounts of money in their checking accounts, Madden said.
But it was the theft of a computer and computer discs from Sundance RV Sales, 11713 U.S. 19, Port Richey, that caused the owner to go out of business, Madden said. On Oct. 31, burglars broke into the store and stole the items along with checks, a television and videocassette recorder. The discs contained all the businesses records.
As Madden and Kokoris closed in on three members of the ring _ Todd William Allen, 18, of 12230 Bear Claw Loop, Hudson; William J. Humphrey, 19, of 9536 Gladwin Ave., Hudson, and a 16-year-old boy _ the detectives tried to get the three not to destroy the computer and especially the discs, Madden said. They passed word to them through an intermediary but later were told the computer was tossed in a canal and the discs were thrown into a trash bin, he said.
Donna's Cars, 12016 South Road, Hudson, went out of the used-car business after the owner had to continually replace keys and titles after several burglaries there, Madden said. Another business, Topics Auto Sales, 16642 U.S. 19 in Hudson, also closed after thefts there, he said.
The other people arrested and charged in connection with the ring are Kathy Elaine Humphrey, 29, and Michael Kent, both of 430 12th Ave., Shady Hills; Raymond Thomas Stamper, 32, of 9604 Ball Court, Hudson; and Donald Locke, 34, of 15809 Tricourt Drive, Hudson, according to Sheriff's Office records.
Of the seven defendants, William Humphrey, Kent and Stamper remained in the West Pasco Detention Center on Wednesday.