Sarasota Police Department continuing to investigate alleged theft of property valued at more than $200,000
The Sarasota Police Department has arrested five people in connection with a burglary that was reported on Tangier Way in Sarasota on Aug. 4, the department has announced.
The victims told officers that they left the house just after 6 p.m. to have dinner at Michael’s on East, near downtown Sarasota, the Probable Cause Affidavits in the case point out.
Just after 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 4, Sarasota Police patrol officers were dispatched to the home, a Police Department news release explains. When the victims returned from dinner, the release says, they found that the glass door to the master bedroom had been broken, and a large safe in a closet had been cut and pried open, the affidavits add. Passports, vehicle titles, and designer handbags and jewelry valued at more than $200,000 in were missing from the safe, they reported.
The victims were not identified in the affidavits, and the exact location of the incident was redacted from the affidavits. Tangier Way is just south of San Remo Terrace — and Siesta Drive — and east of Siesta Key.
“Sarasota Police detectives do not believe the suspects and victims knew one another,” the news release points out.
Each of the suspects has been charged with felony counts of grand theft of more than $100,000; residential burglary with property damage; and possession of burglary tools, a news release says.
Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrested the suspects in Orlando on Aug. 8, Judge reported late last week. The suspects were transferred to the Sarasota County Jail on Aug. 11, that release noted.
Those arrested are as follows:
- Andres Felipe Suarez Lopez, 28, address unknown (extradited to Broward County).
- Jefferson Javier Nunez Suarez, 32, address unknown.
- Oscar Daniel Londono Rubiano, 35, address unknown.
- Juan Camilo Cuartas Castellanos, 32, a resident of Bogota, Columbia.
- Juan Quinones, 50, address unknown.
An Aug. 24 Sarasota News Leader search of the inmate records for the Sarasota County Jail found no records for Suarez, Rubiano or Castellanos. However, Quinones remained in confinement that day, with his total bond put at $41,500. A separate record for him noted that he was being held for release to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel in Miami-Dade County.
In a follow-up advisory, issued on Aug. 22, Genevieve Judge, the Police Department’s public information officer, wrote that several of the items and some of the U.S. currency that was recovered after the execution of a search warrant in Orlando “did not all belong to the victims on Tangier Way.”
She added, “This is a multi-agency investigation. Sarasota Police detectives believe the five people arrested are connected to similar types of burglaries in Pinellas Park and the Orlando area. The investigation remains active and ongoing. Anyone with any information is asked to call the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-263-6070.”
An individual also may leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS, or going online at www.sarasotacrimestoppers.com.
Details of the incident
During their investigation, Sarasota Police detectives obtained surveillance video from outside the house that showed three Hispanic men entering the residence wearing gloves and masks, the affidavits say. As shown in the video, the time was 6:35 p.m., the affidavits note.
While the suspects were outside the house, one of them was talking on a radio, the affidavits continue. Detectives believe that the person to whom the suspect was speaking was another member of the group “who was on the lookout for the victims to return,” the release says.
The video showed the suspects leaving the house at 7:33 p.m., the affidavits add.
Sarasota Police detectives saw a white Honda Odyssey mini van in the video, which they believe the suspects used, the affidavits point out.
After reviewing that video, the affidavits note, an unnamed officer began to scan through red-light camera footage taken at the intersection of Bee Ridge Road and South Tamiami Trail, looking for the Odyssey van, which had a temporary Florida license tag, the affidavits continue.
At 6:26 p.m. on Aug. 4, as shown in the footage, the van was traveling southbound on South Tamiami Trail. It made a westbound turn onto Bay Road, heading in the direction of Tangier Way, the affidavits add.
Then, at 6:29 p.m., the Odyssey reappeared, the affidavits note.
The officer then watched red-light camera footage taken at the intersection of Bahia Vista Street and South Tamiami Trail, as well as surveillance footage shot outside Michael’s on East. The officer spotted the van driving by the restaurant, the affidavits say. The officer saw it traveling west on Lincoln Drive, the affidavits continue, and then it reappeared in the direction of Tangier Way. At 7:33 p.m., the Odyssey was observed heading east on Bay Road and then turning north onto South Tamiami Trail, the affidavits add.
As they reviewed the surveillance footage taken from outside Michael’s on East, the affidavits point out, detectives began to think that the radio communication they saw in the victims’ home surveillance video was taking place with someone other than an individual in the Odyssey, the affidavits say.
Then one detective observed on the restaurant’s surveillance footage that a silver SUV had backed into a parking space that had a view of the victims’ vehicle, the affidavit says. No one exited that SUV, and it did not leave the spot while the victims were in the restaurant, the affidavits add.
After the victims were seen leaving the restaurant, the affidavits point out, the SUV left the parking lot and followed the victims’ vehicle north on South East Avenue. That occurred at 7:33 p.m., the affidavits add, which was approximately the same time that the home video surveillance showed the suspect speaking on the radio. Thus, the affidavits say, detectives believe that someone in the SUV was telling the suspect at the house that the victims were heading home.
A check of the SUV’s license tag enabled detectives to learn that the vehicle was registered to Saver LLC in Fort Lauderdale, which is a rental car company, the affidavits note.
Detectives subpoened Saver LLC for documents relating to the rental of the SUV, which was a Hyundai Santa Fe, after they determined it was the “lookout vehicle,” as the affidavits describe it. They learned that it had been rented on July 31 in Fort Lauderdale, with the transaction calling for its return on Aug. 9. The person who rented the Santa Fe was Juan Camilo Cuartas Castellanos, the affidavits point out, who provided a Colombian driver’s license and a cell phone number.
On Aug. 7, the affidavits point out, detectives were able to locate the Santa Fe in the parking lot of the Hyatt House Hotel in Orlando; they also found the Odyssey in that parking lot.
At the Sarasota Police Department’s request, the affidavits indicate, an Orange County judge approved a search warrant for a room at the Hyatt registered under the name “Leduan Leon,” on the basis of the hotel parking pass information. Warrants also were obtained for a search of the two vehicles, the affidavits note.
Orange County deputies and Sarasota Police detectives detained the five people they found in the room at the Hyatt, the affidavits add. The men refused to speak with the officers, the affidavits note. Nonetheless, they “were in possession of multiple identification cards from different countries and the U.S.,” the affidavits say.
Among the items found in the hotel room were the following, the affidavits point out:
- Clothing worn by the suspects as seen on the surveillance video from the Tangier Way home.
- Cash totaling $122,212.
- Louis Vuitton handbags,
- Jewelry, including watches, necklaces, earrings and rings, plus gold bars.
- Multiple cell phones.
Evidence collected from the two vehicles included the following, the affidavits add:
- Louis Vuitton handbags,
- Jewelry, including watches, necklaces, earrings and rings.
- “High-end liquor bottles.”
- “GPS electronic trackers.”
- A DeWalt saw with several blades.
- Screwdrivers and crowbars.
- Three walkie-talkies and two microphone speakers.
- A radio frequency jammer.
- Several pairs of black and gray gloves.
- Clothing worn by the suspects during the alleged crime.
City residents urged to take precautions against crimes
In the aftermath of the Tangier Way incident, the Police Department news release says, officers are urging residents throughout the city of Sarasota to take measures to prevent themselves from being victims of crimes. Police Department personnel recommend the following steps:
- Lock front, back, and side doors, and install additional locks if possible.
- Install and use home security systems, if possible.
- Make sure garage doors are locked, and lock the door within a garage that has access to a home.
- Lock car doors and do not keep garage openers or keys inside vehicles.
- “Remain vigilant. Familiarize yourself with your community.
- “Exercise caution when answering the door.
- “Do not keep valuables and documents in plain sight. Try to find an unusual spot to keep expensive property.
- “If you see something suspicious, report it to law enforcement immediately.