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Crime Spree Ends with Four Arrests, 14 Unlocked Vehicles Burglarized, One Stolen

WEEKI WACHEE – Yesterday was an incredibly busy day for first responders, with several fatal auto accidents, two structure fires, an injured firefighter, and dozens of minor incidents that kept deputies and firefighters hopping from scene to scene. But a major incident inside the River Run Condominium complex in was overlooked until today, when officials say four would-be vehicle burglars were captured, thanks to the watchful eyes of a vigilant couple.

According to officials, while out for an early morning walk, a man and woman whose identities have not been released, observed several juveniles checking car door handles and entering vehicles throughout the community.  The couple immediately notified law enforcement, which led to the response of several deputies, K-9, and the Air Unit.

When deputies began arriving on scene, all four suspects fled on foot. Three suspects were located in a heavily wooded area near the complex. One of the suspects was bitten on the leg by K-9 during the search.

The fourth suspect remained at large until Detective Mike O’Brien observed him walking in the roadway within the complex and placed him into custody. He was later identified as 17-year-old Raphael Thomas. Detectives later learned that Thomas was wanted out of Hillsborough County for Armed Robbery. Officials say Thomas is set to be tried as an adult in that case which is why RNRF is revealing the suspect’s identity.

Through investigation, detectives learned that all four juveniles traveled to Hernando County in a vehicle that they stole in Hillsborough County.  According to Officials, all four suspects intended to commit more crimes in Hernando County and then “split the proceeds amongst them” before returning home.  Once they arrived at the River Run complex, they immediately stole a vehicle and drove it within the complex.

As a part of the crime spree, 14 vehicles were burglarized inside the complex. Astoundingly, all of the vehicles that were burglarized were unlocked.

In a statement Sheriff Al Nienhuis said, “Observant citizens are our best defense against crime.  Whether it is a moving company van in front of the neighbors’ house while they are at work or some suspicious activity in the middle of the night, we appreciate those calls, even when the suspicions turn out to be explainable.  One neighbor spending a little time on the front porch during a sleepless night instead of watching television, for example, can help protect a whole neighborhood.  When citizens are observant and lock their car doors, it can go a long way toward driving crime out of Hernando County.”

All four suspects are charged with 14-counts of Burglary. Two suspects are charged with Grand Theft Auto. Two were released to the custody of a parent and two were detained by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The case remains under investigation.

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Comments
  • Due to the economy and drugs this is happening everywhere, not just in Hernando County . Parents in today’s world do ZERO with their kids. They should be held accountable!
    And don’t believe everything you read on this site. Half is BS.or completely WRONG.

    Tuesday, 27 December 2016, 8:41 pm
  • Gated communities are no deterrent to thefts such as these. They are usually on foot, they don’t drive into a neighborhood. Just this morning, at 4am, 2 young guys on bicycles were seen in the neighbor’s driveway going through their 3 vehicles (which were all unlocked). Police were called and a report was made, but the 2 thieves were long gone by that time. Keep your vehicles locked, it’s usually as simple as that to avoid being a victim. It’s amazing how many people leave cell phones, cameras, money and even guns in an unlocked car. They roam your neighborhood in the wee hours of morning when it’s unlikely to be seen.

    Monday, 29 August 2016, 8:50 am
  • JIMBO, I’m gonna answer that one, and the answer is yes. We moved here in 1990. My husband took a job with River Run as their gated security man. Just like Timber Pines has. My husband did this job for about 3 +yrs, but the homeowners association decided they didn’t want to pay for or provide that service to their residents anymore. So they shut it down, and let him go. There hasn’t been ANY security for that property since. Guardhouse at the entrance is unmanned and open 24/7. It is so secluded back there, that anything can happen and go undetected. The residents HAVE to keep their eyes and ears open for anything they may see or hear.

    Saturday, 27 August 2016, 4:26 pm
  • John Dalton why am I ugly..because I believe in do the crime do the time and not slap their hands. Maybe if the parents have to pay for damaged property they will watch their kid better.

    Saturday, 27 August 2016, 4:07 pm
  • PETER DID YOUR PLACE HAVE GATES WHEN YOU BOUGHT IT ?????????????

    Saturday, 27 August 2016, 3:35 pm
  • I deliver newspapers in the Heather and trust me I call the sheriff department all the time about suspicious people. I always request that the deputy call me back with the results.

    So far this year I found two car doors left open two trunk lids wide open. People who were living in the woods trying to get into the pool areas.

    Keys left in the doors and many garage doors left open. Lots of good things in people’s garages.

    Plus in my neighborhood there is a lot of meth problems. People walking up to the dealer’s houses. My meth zombies I call them. The steal from you in a heartbeat. One car lives in Glenn Lakes and delivers stuff in my hood. So the problem is ever where.

    Saturday, 27 August 2016, 12:59 pm
  • Under Islamic State and Saudi Arabian law these “kid’s” punishment for theft would be to have their hand cut off. Good to be an American. Here you just get it slapped.

    Saturday, 27 August 2016, 11:21 am
  • Horrific!

    Saturday, 27 August 2016, 8:36 am
  • Not enough “fun” to keep them interested in Hillsborough county so they had to come to Hernando county?

    Saturday, 27 August 2016, 7:17 am
  • I live in a apt complex here in Hernando County and Was told that several vehicles were broke into the last few nights ago.. I wonder if it’s the same Juveniles

    Saturday, 27 August 2016, 12:20 am
  • I live in river run condos and I think it is so stupid that the community board and the real management company have to wait until people’s cars get robbed in order to consider getting gates even with this incident they probably won’t get gates if my truck gets robbed I will raise all he’ll on this place

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 11:56 pm
  • My car was broken into just before the 4th of July. It was locked up tight as I always do, and the alarm was on. I discovered about 11:30pm when I went out to walk my dog, that the drivers’s door was opened, and the inside lights had manually been turned on. The ignition switch had somehow been turned on with no key, and the entire dashboard was lit up. Glovebox was open. Didn’t see any wires ripped out or hanging from underneath to indicate it had been hot wired but someone DEFINITELY was able to open it. And it’s not a really old car. It’s a 2006 Amanti. I have double checked it EVERYDAY SINCE. Freaks me out thinking that whoever did it…was probably still out there when I went over to check it out. 😮

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 11:39 pm
  • Neighbors look out for each other but it takes HCSO 45 minutes to get out to Hexam and Centralia Roads to answer a call. By that time the thieves are long gone, unless you have them at gunpoint.

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 9:50 pm
  • Gotta love those HCSO K9s!

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 8:16 pm
  • congrats to the people that reported this. we need people like this to keep our communities safer. we have enough drama that we dont need it coming from other areas to victimize the citizens. lock it or lose it. its amazing with all that goes on the average person isnt locking their vehicle and leaving valuables inside.

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 7:09 pm
  • Released in the parents what a joke if they cared the jurks wouldn’t be doing what they are doing they would be in school. I say charge them as adults….do the crime do the time..

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 6:31 pm
    • Judy……..you are one ugly woman!

      Friday, 26 August 2016, 10:52 pm
  • Great job to the couple that reported them and to all of the LEO’S involved. Hope the dog is current on its shots.

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 6:08 pm
  • F#&%ING SCUMBAGS ! That sucks the K9 didnt bite ALL their *****. 2 were released ?! What a joke. The juvenile justice system is an absolute joke. They need to do time for this mess, these are criminals not at risk youth. Great story Tom !

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 5:46 pm
  • Hopefully they will have learned from this or this will be a long time of criminal activity!

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 5:28 pm
  • Juveniles that know right from wrong, deserve no fn breaks!!

    Friday, 26 August 2016, 5:28 pm

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