Recent crime spree concerns Oldsmar residents, officials

A recent crime spree, including car break-ins in the East Lake area as well as a home burglary in the downtown district, have left a number of Oldsmar residents, and officials, on edge.

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Pinellas County Sheriff’s officials have asked Oldsmar residents to be vigilant when it comes to locking their vehicles due to a rash of recent burglaries in the East Lake corridor. A suspected home burglar has also been reported in the downtown district.

A recent crime spree, including a rash of vehicle break-ins in the East Lake area as well as attempted home burglaries in the downtown district, has left Oldsmar residents on edge and officials concerned.

During a discussion about renewing the city’s annual contract with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, City Council member Gabby McGee asked Capt. Jack Peterson about a recent burglary that occurred near downtown.

“Unfortunately, this weekend the East Lake corridor got hit with 31 vehicle burglaries,” Capt. Peterson said on Tuesday, Sept. 6. “We had six rental cars as far away as Alachua County here last night.”

“Unfortunately, vehicle burglaries seem to be a crime of opportunity, and we’re trying to educate as many people as we can to please lock your vehicles.”

McGee asked if he knew about the burglary, and Capt. Peterson said he wasn’t aware of the specifics of the home burglary.

The council member then went on to explain she heard about the alleged crime from a friend on Facebook.

Oldsmar City Council member Gabby McGee.

Oldsmar City Council member Gabby McGee.

“A friend of mine who lives there (Lafayette Boulevard) apparently talked to the sheriff’s office because that man who burglarized the house also tried to burglarize her home, and she happened to be home,” McGee explained.

“So she wrote on Facebook, just letting everybody know a gentleman in a “VOTE” tee-shirt came to her door ringing the doorbell and knocking on the door, and she thought it was really crazy that he just kept ringing it. He said he was there to see who she was going to vote for and she thought he looked pretty sketchy and he was carrying a bag of rocks…and apparently he had burglarized the other house.”

“So just be aware, because it is election season,” she added. “Make sure you lock your door and use your alarm system.”

Later that day, McGee shared this message to residents on Facebook:

Oldsmar Residents – Please Be Aware
There was a home burglary that occurred yesterday during the holiday on Lafayette Blvd. in downtown Oldsmar. There was also an attempt to burglarize another home but that homeowner was home. At this time I do not believe the suspect has been apprehended. He was wearing a VOTE t-shirt and apparently rings the doorbell and knocks feverishly prior to attempting the break in, using a bag of rocks. Please ensure that you are utilizing your alarm systems and/or locking your windows and doors at all times when you leave. The Captain of the Sheriff’s Office also informed us that the East Lake area had more than 25 car burglaries this holiday weekend. Please don’t leave valuables visible in your car with your vehicles unlocked.

After sharing the post on the Oldsmar Connect Facebook page, a number of people commented, relating similar stories.

“I RAN INTO THIS GUY!” Adam Rohrmann posted. “When I read this and heard he had a VOTE t-shirt on, I thought this is just too weird of a coincidence.”

“I was riding my bike on Lafayette, Saturday morning around 9 a.m. There was a guy on the sidewalk in front of me, and he stood to the side as I passed him, and he told me, “Don’t forget to vote!” I thought it was an extremely odd thing to say to somebody. He had a plastic shopping bag in his hand, and as I came up behind him, I remember thinking it must have matchbox cars in it, as it rattled around. Black guy, slender, about 6’1″, 170lbs. blue jeans, had a t-shirt on but I didn’t read the front, baseball cap, can’t remember of what.”

“I had a trailer stolen from my driveway on Lafayette not too long ago,” Jason Noel commented. “Car burglaries and other thefts have been happening in the area for months. Police can’t be everywhere all the time. Be vigilant and report suspicious activity. They’ll never be caught without our help.”

At the time of this article’s publication, there had been no further word on whether or not the man in the “VOTE” shirt had been apprehended and/or questioned by deputies.

Oldsmar Connect is attempting to gather more information, and we will have an update on this story in the near future.

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